OK for kids 13+
Wartime drama mixes aerial combat, worthy messages, cliches.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Red Tails is a World War II action-drama inspired by the real-life Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black fighter pilot squadron. Executive produced by George Lucas, the film has several intense aerial combat sequences (including loud gunfire, fiery explosions, bloody injuries, crashes, and deaths) and shows the racism the aviators encountered every day. It's stirring (if not exactly unpredictable) and patriotic and tells an important story with messages about bravery, duty, loyalty, and friendship. In addition to the many battle sequences, there's some swearing (including "s--t" and the "N" word) and drinking (one character battles a dependence on alcohol), as well as a relationship between one of the pilots and a local Italian girl.
- Families can talk about the movie's messages. What do the characters learn about duty and confidence? Why is their story an important one? Are they all positive role models?
- Talk about the film's historical context. Why were the pilots treated like inferiors? Why were so many people resistant to changing their minds about the pilots' abilities? How could you find out more about the Tuskegee Airmen?
- Do you think the movie is historically accurate? Why might filmmakers choose to change details of the past when telling their story?
The good stuff
Messages: The story has strong messages about equality, duty, loyalty, and friendship. The African-American pilots face prejudice at almost every level of the military, but those attitudes are shown to be small-minded and wrong, as the pilots' skill, bravery, teamwork, and dedication to duty finally win over even some of their most bitter detractors. Through sometimes-painful consequences, characters also learn lessons about following orders, believing in themselves, and putting honor above glory.
Role models: The Red Tails are daring and brave and eager to fight to defend their country, even though the military (and many Americans in general) see them as second-class citizens. Most of them suffer from some kind of flaw (lack of confidence, overconfidence, bad attitude, etc.), but their relationships with each other and their unit -- and their ability to finally prove themselves in battle -- help them learn from their mistakes. Some of the characters feel a bit stereotypical, but that's largely due to script weaknesses.
What to watch for
Violence: Many intense aerial combat sequences as the pilots tangle with German fighters in the air and/or strafe targets on the ground (including trains, trucks, an airfield, and more). Lots of loud gunfire and big explosions, and several scenes feature injured pilots who are struggling to return to their base despite serious, often bloody injuries. Major characters are hurt in battle, and one is captured. Planes catch on fire and crash; early sequences show bomber crews taking severe losses (including close-ups of some dead soldiers' faces). The pilots also occasionally get into fistfights on the ground with each other or with other members of the military.
Sex: A pilot courts an Italian woman who lives near their base; they exchange a few kisses, and one scene shows them waking up together (he's shirtless, and she's in lingerie).
Language: Language includes "s--t," "ass," "damn," "bitch," "bastard," "hell," "goddamn," and "crap." A white soldier insults a black pilot using the "N" word. "Negro" is used frequently, as it was a common way of referring to African Americans in the 1940s; "colored" is also used often but is seen as a more derogatory term.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: One character has a drinking problem that grows more serious throughout the film; he frequently sips out of a flask, often seeming desperate for a drink. One of the unit's commanding officers likes to smoke a pipe; cigars are also seen and smoked. Some scenes take place in bars where the soldiers drink to blow off steam.
Fan Reviews provided by
If you're an African American, you should see and support this film... by HakatRe
As an African American and a pilot, I take the history and accomplishments of the 332nd Fighter Group (The Tuskegee Airmen) more seriously than most, I guess. This film was well made from a technical and visual effect standpoint (as to be expected from any Lucasfilm production). But, what really stood out was how accurately the film portrayed the historical events that took place in the air in that time and how these young Black men not only met but, far exceeded everyone's expectations in the U.S. military. Of course, one can expect some exaggeration in the drama and screenplay but, for the most part, the film accurately displays true action that those brave Army Air Corp pilots underwent. Just go see the film and appreciate this proud segment in African American aviation history.
im inspired by mrm711
i was having a really bad day at work. i was going to skip this movie...but i thought, perhaps going to the theater will take me away from my miserable day. sure enough, it did. call it a sign, but i felt the movie was speaking to me...just as a woman experiencing adversity. i am truly inspired to fight and to stick up for myself, especially when you are being treated unfairly. this movie was like a song that understood me. if you are feeling at all down, whether at work, or other aspect of your life, and feel that there is no hope, watch this movie. it might just empower you...
Must see! by bethand3girls
This movie was a terrific story, interesting, engaging and compelling. Not perfect, but a great story well told. The characters could have had more depth, but that would have bogged the story down and made the losses of some of them unbearable. Were the Tuskegee airmen perfect? No, they were human... brave, courageous, and heroic.
American history is complicated and flawed. Only if we look at our mistakes can we understand our successes.
Red Tails a must go by wilson131004gmailcom
Not only becaus of the star studded cast,not only because it is a Lucas film but because it is a very realistic review of US history. This part of our history isn't shared with everyone and it is not in our books in schools but these brave men gave their lives for the country they loved. I was moved
WATERED DOWN FOR HOLLYWOOD BUT STILL GREAT! by iPhoneQue
This is a GREAT story, tastefully done, safe for kids, and I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone. Considering the story, it should be every American's obligation to see this depiction of real American history. I've read several reviews from nationally acclaimed critics. I disagree with most of them. The majority of the critics rated this movie solely from a cinematic perspective which doesn't do it justice. From what I read in non-movie sources, George Lucas had been trying to get this filmed done for almost 25 years and couldn't find any studio willing to take the project. As a result, he financed it himself. This brings me to my one objection of the film, the historical precision of this is just not there which is the whole point of the Tuskegee Airmen. The racial element of the story is toned down considerably. Although this is history, some are obviously still uncomfortable about it. Race still matters in America. Don't be afraid, my fellow Americans. GO SEE THIS FILM!
Red Tails; made me blood red with pride by daddydarryl
I made it my business to be at the theatre on Friday night and share this movie with my brother and sister-in-law. I'm somewhat familiar with the historical heroic feats of the Army Air Corp project at Tuskegee. My father-in-law, Major Brown, is a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and actually pre-dated the "Tuskegee Experiment" as the 1st African American pilot. His military career is chronicled in the Smithsonian Museum's Air & Space pavilion.
The movie was entertaining and informative with good acting and ?message? delivery. I enjoyed the movie, however, I came away feeling like I wanted to experience more. I stood up and saluted the airmen full of pride having witnessed true heros and role models.
I thank God for their bravery, courage and commitment.
Great TRUE Story. Has action, history, and a little romance. by Mr-Z
My wife and I saw this and both loved it. The flying action was very realistic, kept you on the edge of your seat from the start. Characters well acted as the story developed throughout the movie. My wife even cried at one point. I looked up the Red Tails history after the movie, the events in the movie are very accurate. GO SEE IT
GLORY meets TOP GUN... kinda! by Geek Soul Brother
RED TAILS is a story about Black Pilots in WWII that overcame prejudice and adversity as they fought the Germans in the air, and saved the lives of bomber pilots they protected.
If anyone is wondering if they shouldn't see this because George Lucas was the Exec. Producer, don't worry, he didn't mess things up.
On the contrary, the retelling of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen was handled rather well. The acting wasn't bad, and the directing by Anthony Hemingway was well thought out. Cuba Gooding and Terrence Howard played their parts well of course.
The best part of the movie was the aerial battles. Each Dog-Fight became more action packed. The special effects blended well with the live action; the actors really looked like they were fighting in the air. The only thing you might notice is the corny dialog at first. But it is1944 so maybe that was intentional. It does get better as the drama unfolds. Not bad overall.
GEEK SOUL BROTHER gives RED TAILS 3.5 Cosmic Afros.
Red Tails by micbutler
Red Tails was an excellent movie. All the characters played very good parts. The special effects were powerful. It?s good to see a movie that is so moving and inspirational.
A Great Untold Story by supermex25
Kudos to George Lucas for taking a chance and making this movie! I enjoyed every minute of this movie and even though I saw the midnight preview, I never fell asleep. It was great to see how our Americans (of other ethnicities), contributed to the winning of the war. Great dogfight sequences. Reminds me of the Battle of Britain. Every one should see this movie and if they know of a WW II vet should thank, salute, hug them and never forget their sacrifices for the freedoms that we have in this country.
I'm waiting to see a WW II movie that features Latino/Hispanic soldiers.