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Tron Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Dated and mediocre but kid-friendly sci-fi from Disney.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that in addition to its cutting-edge special effects, this Disney feature was also a pioneer as one of the Magic Kingdom's early PG-rated films. To seem more "mature" there's verbal acknowledgement of premarital sexual relations among the main characters (nothing shown) and very mild swearing. Violence and death are unrealistic (mostly dematerializations) but in one scene a software-based humanoid being tortured reveals a glowing skeleton; small children may be troubled by that and some of the menacing imagery associated with the villains. Religious households might note the spiritual undertone about religious persecution.

  • Families can talk about the advancements in computerized special effects since this film. Does Tron still impress kids visually?
  • On a deeper level, discuss the script's metaphor of computer-generatedbeings who are victimized for proclaiming their belief in 'higherpowers,' their own creators. That would tend to make the human Flynn --a real, live programmer downloaded into the mainframe -- very much aChrist figure.
  • Note the very naive, unrealistic depiction of pre-Windows computertechnology, and talk about other movies of the era (such as SupermanIII) that saw computers of the time as miraculous and almost magical(sci-fi movies of the 1930s held the same awe for radio and TV).

The good stuff
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    Messages: While the good guys stage an illegal break-in at their place of business, they are otherwise supposedly on the side of morality in trying to take down criminal software tycoon Dillinger. There is a qualifier that both Flynn and his cohort have slept with the same girl (no hard feelings, evidently). In the "virtual" computer world, lines between good and evil are simply drawn, literally, with a religious angle: the software beings who believe in their "users" (that is, their creators) are subject to persecution/torture/execution by the nonbelief-preaching cyber-villains.

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    Role models: Dillinger embodies a longstanding Hollywood stereotype of businessmen as corrupt and dangerous. Few female characters or ethnic diversity in computer-world; it's implicit that program-based beings take on the appearance of their real-world creators -- overwhelmingly white, male software engineers. The human heroine is a brainy scientist, however.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Violence is mainly of the stylized, low-resolution video game style, literally. When fatalities happen, characters dematerialize (though there is also an energy-draining torture sequences when skeletons become visible). Bloodless collisions of spaceship-thingies, motorcycle-thingies.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Brief dialogue indicates both leading male characters had previous premarital bedroom romps with the heroine.

  • language false0

    Language: A few "damns."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Dated plugs for arcade video games -- no names of real ones mentioned, but classic gamers will recognize Pac-Man noises in the background. Tron tie-in games were peddled (and later successors came out, especially in anticipation of a Tron sequel).

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    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Nothing to speak of, but main character Flynn runs what looks like a saloon-video arcade as a side business.