Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that although the bestselling Hunger Games books are enormously popular with tweens, there's a clear distinction between reading about violence and seeing it portrayed on screen. Developmentally, the 10- to 12-year-olds who've read the book may find the movie's visceral, sometimes bloody teen-on-teen violence upsetting -- especially the brutal scene that opens the Games, in which several teens are slaughtered by their fellow contestants. Even young teens need to be mature enough to deal with the 20+ deaths in The Hunger Games; characters are viciously dispatched with various weapons -- including spears, arrows, and swords -- as well as by having their necks broken, their skulls cracked, and their bodies ravaged by carnivorous and poisonous creatures. Despite the violence (which is, overall, less graphic than the novel's descriptions but is still very intense), the movie explores thought-provoking themes about reality television, totalitarian government, and screen violence as entertainment. And Katniss, the main character, is a strong heroine who's resourceful, selfless, and a true survivor. Her mentor, Haymitch, is initially depicted as a cynical drunk, but he ultimately proves to be a valuable ally.
Peeta reveals that he's had a crush on Katniss since they were kids, and the two kiss a couple of times, one time pretty passionately.
As in the book, The Hunger Games' central "pageant" is a televised battle to the death: 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 (12 girls, 12 boys) are selected to participate in a bloody reality show-style contest in which there's only one victor. There's a pervasive sense of peril and tension, and once the Games start, there's an immediate bloodbath, with vicious weapon use, a fair amount of blood, and several dead bodies -- though the quick editing means that the most gruesome bits aren't lingered on. The young combatants proceed to die from spears, arrows, knives, deadly insect bites, attack by genetically modified dog-like creatures, and poisonous berries (some deaths occur off camera). A couple of the tributes also have their necks snapped or heads bashed. The Gamemakers purposely devise situations to try and kill off characters, including a scary fire with fireball projectiles; another scene has a large explosion. Katniss is badly burned; Peeta has a nasty knife injury. Earlier in the movie, there are scenes of characters practicing with weapons and demonstrating their deadly skills, as well as gory snippets of footage from earlier Games. Scenes of a riot and subsequent retaliation by government forces.
Very infrequent use of words like "damn," "hell," and "oh my God" (as an exclamation).
Thought-provoking, complex messages. Teamwork and loyalty are valued, but deception and artifice are also rewarded. The will to survive, the fragile relationship between a dictatorial government and its oppressed people, rebellion as a preferred option to obedience, and the distinction between image and reality are all addressed. There are many discussion-worthy themes in the movie, and they touch on everything from the micro/personal to the macro/political.
No product placements in the film, but the viral marketing and merchandise tie-ins for the movie (and books) include a line of themed nail polish, as well as apparel, jewelry, games, and more.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Haymitch is often drunk; he has a drink in his hand for the first half of the movie -- though as he gains focus/motivation, he drinks less. Several dinner and party scenes show adults and teenagers drinking various brightly colored beverages/cocktails.