Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Red Tails

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sequences of war violence
Profanity:Some mild language (s-word)
Nudity/Sex:Non-explicit sexual situations, some sexual references
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Wartime violence, battle scenes, many characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:January 20, 2012
DVD Release Date:May 22, 2012

The official military documents of the 1940’s said that African-Americans were “mentally inferior” “subservient and cowards” and not fit to fly planes.  The Tuskegee Airmen of WWII proved that African-Americans were outstanding pilots.  They had to fight to be trained and they had to fight to be allowed to do combat missions, but once they were in the air they demonstrated skill, courage, and dedication that made their divisions one of the most highly decorated of the war.  For George Lucas, a long-time scholar of aerial combat, a film about the Tuskegee Airmen was a passion project.  When the studios told him that they would not finance an expensive movie with no white leading characters, he put up almost $100 million of his own money for a feature film and a documentary about one of the most inspiring stories of the 20th century.

It has the best of intentions, an excellent cast, and thrilling battle footage.  But the scenes on the ground are clunky.  It is in part because the filmmakers, with some justice, do not trust the audience to know very much about history, both of the second World War and of institutionalized racism, so they feel they have to explain everything.  But screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGregor (the “Boondocks” comic strip) make the dialog so expository-heavy it is a surprise the aircraft are not too weighed down by them to get off the ground.

Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard (both, by coincidence, playing Tuskegee Airmen for the second time) play officers inspired by real-life General Benjamin O. Davis.  Gooding plays Major Emanuelle Stance, the commanding officer of the Italian air base where the Tuskegee Airmen are waiting to be allowed to fly missions and Howard plays Colonel A. J. Bullard, who is in Washington advocating for his fliers to be given a chance.  The dignity and resolve Howard shows in meetings with a racist superior officer (“Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston) shine despite the awkward dialog.

So does the terrific cast of young actors including Nate Parker, Elijah Kelly, Method Man, Ne-Yo, and, as the daredevil every war movie has to have (think of him as a WWII Maverick from “Top Gun”), British actor David Oyelowo.  His nickname is “Lightning” and he’s the kind of guy who has to have one more swing around to hit one more target on the way home.  There is the usual conflict between the by-the-rules guy and the rules-are-made-t0-be-broken guy and a sweet romance with a local girl who speaks no English.  The script falters but the power of the real story, the sincerity and screen presence of the actors and the dedication and gallantry of the Tuskegee Airmen and the men who portray them make this a stirring tribute.

Parents should know that this movie has some graphic wartime battle footage.  Characters are shot down, injured, and killed.  There is also a fistfight following a racist comment.  Character use some strong language (s-word, racial insults), drink (one abuses alcohol), and smoke.  There is a non-explicit sexual situation.

Family discussion:  How did each of the characters react differently to the stress of war?

If you like this, try: “The Tuskegee Airmen” with Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding, Jr., “Flyboys,” about the first fighting aces in WWI and “Glory,” about the black soldiers in the Civil War



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Leon

    Great review. Looking forward to this movie. From the previews, I could sense the ground dialog was a bit heavy and overloaded e.g. Terrence Howard scene at table with his white counterparts. Not sure if an officer would have spoken so brash to his superiors for risk of insubordination. But there were real life examples of the airmen fighting back e.g. the bomber group and Terry.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Leon — I think you’ll like this one.

Previous Posts

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy
We mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who created one of the most iconic characters of all time, "Star Trek's" half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock, with pointed ears and angled eyebrows perfectly designed to convey a wry sense of irony.  The storylines of the original "Star Trek" were provocative polit

posted 12:00:09pm Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

New from Daniele Watts: Muted
Actress Daniele Watts stars as missing teenager Crystal Gladwell in Muted, winner of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival short film competition, showing on HBO throughout March 2015. Muted fol

posted 8:00:46am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: Uptown Funk from Alex Boye and the Dancing Grannies
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rjRlJvOxIY0?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Uptown Funk," from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, is covered in a sensational new video from longtime Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Alex Boyé and back-up performers ranging in age from 65-92.

posted 9:16:46am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Like Sunday, Like Rain with Debra Messing and Leighton Meester
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B28IHhaQXCE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:29am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.