Common Sense Note
Parents need to know the The Giver is a dystopian thriller based on author Lois Lowry's best-selling 1993 novel (which has sparked some controversy since its publication and landed on some banned-book lists). Since the novel is commonly used in middle school classrooms, the adaptation will appeal to tweens and teens who've read and loved it. Although there are some fundamental changes from the book (like the age of Jonas, the main character), the movie shares the book's central themes about the things that make life worth living, even if they're painful. The violent revelations are disturbing, especially ugly truths about what it means when citizens (including a baby) are "released into Elsewhere," but the movie isn't nearly as violent as comparable movies like The Hunger Games or Divergent. Like the movie, the book should launch some thoughtful conversations about totalitarianism, freedom of expression, and why utopian societies fail.
Some hand holding, longing looks, and a couple of kisses. Discussion of how the community handles adolescent "stirrings."
Jonas punches his friend in the face after a confrontation. Two people await lethal injection. An entire society has no idea that the term "releasing" means killing, so when a man "releases" a baby, or a group is told they're being "released," no one but Jonas and the Giver know what's happening. The Giver and Jonas have violent, disturbing dreams and visions of past horrors.
No language, since in the community, people don't curse.
The movie's themes and messages echo the book's: how Sameness has eradicated personal expression, how conformity is a threat to individuality, how having no choices for the sake of equality is really oppression, and more. The movie also tackles the tough subject of whether pain is necessary for joy and whether love and heartbreak are preferable to stability and community.
Drugs / Tobacco /