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Missing Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Graphic portrayal of dictatorship's abuses is unforgettable.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Missing is the story of a father's search for his missing son after a right-wing coup in a South American country. There is violence in the form of gunshots and dead bodies, but unlike most violent films, the violence isn't intended to heighten action, but to underscore the deeper point of human rights abuses in a regime brought to power by the United States. By following Ed's discovery of what his government has been getting up to in a country where his son has been living, American foreign policy and the cruelties of dictatorships are brought into full focus. For parents familiar with American involvement in Latin America during the Cold War (and before), this film should provoke discussion about what government leaders say as opposed to what their governments actually do, and for families unfamiliar with this ugly chapter in South American history, Missing should prove a real eye-opener.

  • Families can talk about the violence in this film. What is the purpose of the violence portrayed? How does it underscore the message of the film?
  • Ed goes through profound changes over the course of the movie. How is his character presented early in the film, and what actions cause him to evolve?
  • What is film's role in politics? Can filmmakers use art for positive change? What about negative change? Or should film be purely for entertainment?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: While painting a bleak portrait of American foreign policy and of bureaucracy in general, the film shows perseverance in pursuit of the truth and in the face of tremendous difficulties.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Ed Horman stops at nothing to find out the truth about his missing son Charles, even as he confronts endless government red tape and outright lying. Beth Horman risks her life attempting to find out the truth about what happened to her husband Charles. Charles Horman is an idealistic writer working for social and economic justice in Chile.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The human rights abuses of a right-wing South American dictatorship are graphically presented in this film. The city in which the characters live is filled with the echoes of gunshots. There is blood on the street, dead bodies covered in blood. A dead body floats down a river. In a stadium, dead bodies fill the rooms.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Beth Horman freely discusses the sex life between her and Charles with Charles's father Ed.

  • language false3

    Language: Some language, including "s--t," "f--ker."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: While not promoting these products -- seeing how the film discusses how these corporations played a large role in the CIA-backed coup that placed a right-wing dictatorship in power -- the Texaco, Coca-Cola, and Ford logos are shown prominently.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters are shown drinking beer, whiskey, and wine, but do not act intoxicated.