Swing Kids

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1 1/2

Set in 1940s Germany, military life and allusions to Nazi war atrocities contrast sharply with the delightful scenes of young Germans dancing to the swing music of America's big bands. Four youths bond via their music, vowing to avoid Nazism at all costs. When Peter Mueller (Robert Sean Leonard) as a joke steals a radio from a Nazi sympathizer, he is forced to join the Hitler Youth Guard. That prompts his best friend, Thomas Burger (Christian Bale), to join also. The Nazis shut down the dance club because some swing music is performed by Blacks or Jews. As members of the Guard, the boys are sent to spy on their families and friends. Thomas becomes corrupted by the power, and even turns his father in. Peter, however, holds true to his beliefs of right and wrong, causing a rift between the two friends. Peter's mother (Barbara Hershey) is befriended by a Gestapo officer, who repeatedly saves Peter from death or prison. Thomas and Peter confront each other at the swing club when Thomas is sent to close it down. They fight and argue, but ultimately Peter wins Thomas over. We are left with the hope of future generations of swing kids who will outlive the Nazis. SWING KIDS is well acted and offers a unique perspective into the two worlds of Nazi Germany.

The significant violence is not out of character for a film about Nazi Germany. A handicapped boy is driven to slashing his wrists after being beaten and taunted. Though the suicide is off screen, its bloody aftermath shown is too graphic for young viewers. The film also contains three obscenities and eight crudities. Peter shows great strength of character by refusing to turn in anyone working against the Nazis, even though he is in the guard. He also stands up for his handicapped friend when others taunt and beat him. Although most of the violence is essential to the story, the graphic suicide aftermath and the obscenities give SWING KIDS a negative rating. Otherwise, its hopeful ending where good does indeed triumph over evil is commendable.

Preview Reviewer: Alice Anderson
Buena Vista Distribution, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (8) times - Mild 5; Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Few (3) times - (f-word 1; s-word 1; 1 other)

Profanity: One time - Regular

Violence: Many times - Moderate and severe (bloody aftermath of suicide; beatings, shootings, boxing match, threats with knife and gun)

Sex: None

Nudity: Once (boys show nude pictures)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Once (reference to intercourse)

Drugs: Several times - alcohol drinking

Other: Several times (Race/nationality slurs, taunting of handicapped boy, stealing, destruction of property, lack of respect between father and son)

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