The Messenger

2009 R 1h 52m Blu-ray / DVD

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The Messenger

2009 R 1h 52m Blu-ray / DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
  • Cast
An injured soldier is paired with a by-the-book captain to notify families of their loss -- a job that bonds them as they debate differing views on serving America. At odds at first, the two find common ground while facing life's variety of battles.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
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+
  • Ben Foster
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Samantha Morton
  • Steve Buscemi
  • Jena Malone
  • Eamonn Walker
  • Yaya DaCosta
  • Peter Francis James
  • Lisa Joyce
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age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that The Messenger is an intense but thoughtful drama about a wounded Iraq War veteran who's been assigned the very difficult task of informing people of their loved ones' deaths. It's a grim subject that certainly won't appeal to everyone -- though families with mature teens whose lives have been touched by war may find it very emotional and rewarding -- but it brings up some fascinating topics, including the ways that war changes people. The movie doesn't shy away from the raw aspects of soldiers' lives -- complete with strong language, fighting, heavy drinking, sex (including full-frontal nudity) and sex talk -- but it offers a lot to talk and think about.

Sexual Content

Will has sex with an ex-girlfriend in the film's first few minutes, with some rear and frontal female nudity and definite grinding/thrusting. Later, Tony has a naked girl in his bed, and there's full-frontal female nudity, as well as Tony's naked behind. Still later, Tony has noisy sex with another girl, but totally offscreen.


The movie has a mostly simmering, unspoken violence. In his frustration, Will angrily hurls darts at his wall and listens to loud, harsh music. He and Tony get into a brief, mild shoving fight. Later, they team up against three bullies, but the movie cuts away from the actual fight directly to the results: cuts and bruises.


Frequent use of "f--k" and "f--king," as well as some use of "s--t." Other words include "balls," "ass," and "hell."

Social Behavior

The movie has an overwhelming sense of negativity and helplessness, but there are hints of characters triumphing over adversity. Will initially deals with troubles through anger and drinking, but as his friendship grows with Olivia and Tony, he starts to learn tenderness and understanding. Tony, too, begins to allow himself to get close to Will and learn from his newfound compassion.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Adult characters drink frequently and intensely, mainly to drown out their pain and fear. Tony is an alcoholic who's fallen off the wagon; the two men go on a long drinking binge at one point. Drinks range from beer to whisky.

  • 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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