Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that War of the Buttons is an adaptation of a famous French novel about a group of neighboring cliques of boys who engage in a full-scale "war" against one another (success is measured by how many buttons they steal from their enemies). The action is set during World War II -- specifically, the French Occupation -- and includes some moments of cruelty and violence, like when a Jewish family is dragged away from their home by collaborator police officers and when a group of kids lights their nemeses' wooden clubhouse aflame. Kids also get into fistfights with each other and even take turns hitting a "traitor." On the other hand, the kids learn their lesson and work together to save a Jewish teen hidden among them. Young characters and adults both display affection (kissing); there's some subtitled swearing, including "f--k" and "s--t." Adults drink and smoke.
Young Lebrac and Violette have a sweet embrace and kiss on the cheeks before they're separated. Adult characters share a passionate kiss. Men in a bar make crude comments about Simone's reputation for being promiscuous. Lebrac and his friends joke about what it takes to get a girl to like them.
The "war" between the neighboring factions of boys gets pretty brutal -- kids fight each other with sticks and slingshots and definitely get in one another's faces, leaving bruises. A father is known for giving his son the belt. A clique of friends sets fire to their nemeses' clubhouse. A boy is hurt until he gives up his friends' location and is later beaten by his friends for betraying them. A Jewish family is dragged away menacingly; in another scene, a Frenchman goes off looking for a Jewish girl in hiding.
Although the movie is spoken in French, there are several subtitled swear words, including "f--k," "s--t," and insults like "limp dick," "little brats," "big numbskulls," "picky asses," "bastards," "a--holes," and "coward."
On the one hand, War of the Buttons promotes tolerance and teamwork, but on the other, it advocates for war. In the end, the boys learn that having a mutual enemy (in this case, the collaborators) is a point of commonality -- and they help each other despite many weeks of discord. Lebrac also discovers the joy of reading -- as long it has to do with battle strategies -- and Violette realizes that there's more to "country" folk than she previously thought. Lebrac also finds out that people he thought were cowards are actually working for the Resistance.
Drugs / Tobacco /
All of the adults drink (wine or hard liquor), and most smoke cigarettes, both of which are accurate for the movie's time period/setting.