In the Valley of Elah

2006 R 2h 1m Blu-ray / DVD

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In the Valley of Elah

2006 R 2h 1m Blu-ray / DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
When an exemplary soldier disappears after returning from Iraq, his concerned father -- a retired sergeant -- works with a gutsy police detective to investigate in this drama based on actual events.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen 1.78:1
English, Spanish (Neutral), French
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Neutral): Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Full Screen 1.33:1
English SDH
English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 17+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 17+
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age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this contemplative, slow-moving mystery/drama isn't for kids. Its focus on military culture and wartime trauma yields images of chaotic, violent combat footage (much of this is shown in choppy, handheld cell phone video that can be hard to see/interpret). The movie's central murder is discussed frequently, and morgue scenes show the victim's mother's grief, as well as a brief glimpse of the body itself (there's another quick shot of an additional victim's body later on). Strippers are bare-breasted, and characters discuss a female detective who slept with her boss. Strong language includes many uses of "f--k," plus other profanity ("s--t," "p---y," "ass," etc.), and some disparaging terms used to describe Mexican Americans.

Sexual Content

Female dancers sport naked breasts in a strip bar scene. Stripper speaks to Hank while she's nude from the waist up (viewers see her breasts full-on). Discussion of soldiers seeking out prostitutes. Discussion of Emily having slept with her unit chief by fellow detectives who resent her promotion to their ranks.


Frequent violence and images showing the results of violence. Cell phone footage shows explosions, gunfire, and shots of bodies on the roadside, as well as U.S. soldiers in Iraq hitting a child with a vehicle (off screen, but loud noise and verbal reactions), and a soldier torturing a man (below screen) by twisting a finger in his wound. Murder victim's body is briefly visible; discussion of his multiple stab wounds. Background TV footage refers to and briefly shows war images, including Fallujah 2004, when contractors were killed and burned in front of TV cameras. Veterans discuss trauma in war zone (watching, suffering, committing violence). Brief shot of woman's bloody body. Hank slams a man with his truck door, leaving him bloody. Detectives wield guns.


Some salty soldier language, including repeated uses of "f--k" (over 20, one with "mother"), as well as "hell," "ass" and "a--hole," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "p---y." Pejorative use of "chico" to refer to a Mexican-American solider.

Social Behavior

Suspects lie during a murder investigation; references to a female detective having slept with her commander; film raises questions about military objectives and training, as well as soldiers' lack of discipline in Iraq and back home. Male detectives taunt the only woman in their unit, and some racism is displayed toward Mexican Americans.



Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Background cigarette smoking; characters drink several times (liquor, beer) in a bar and in a truck (two men share a bottle of Jim Beam). Discussion of a soldier trying to "score meth."

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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