JARHEAD

Down and Dirty in the Desert

Content -3
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: November 04, 2005

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Jacob Vargas, Chris Cooper, and Dennis Haysbert

Genre: War Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: R for pervasive language, some
violent images and strong
sexual content

Runtime: 119 minutes

Address Comments To:

Bob Wright, Chairman/CEO
NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO
Stacey Snider, Chairman
Universal Pictures
Universal Studios
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com

Content:

(HH, PC, Pa, B, Ab, LLL, VV, SSS, NNN, AA, D, M) Strong humanist worldview that sees life as futile and without significant meaning, and some politically correct comments concerning the war in Iraq that don’t overwhelm the movie, as well as some patriotic comments by soldiers who take pride in serving their country, and one character reads Bible and gives thanks to God, although slight anti-biblical comments made by a tough sergeant who is actually a Christian; 189 obscenities, mostly ‘f’ words, nine profanities, and men can be seen urinating and vomiting; strong violence such as man threatened with gun, man branded, man accidentally killed in battle simulation, piles of corpses (including a soldier who sadistically toys with a corpse), man shot by friendly fire, building destroyed by bomb, and extreme hazing; fornication depicted, pornography, masturbation implied and frequently discussed, detailed sexual discussions, and soldiers’ wives cheat at home; upper female nudity, rear male nudity and frontal male nudity, all of which is brief; drunkenness; smoking; and, soldiers shirk responsibility, soldiers break rules and woman taunts her husband with her cheating.

Summary:

JARHEAD is the account of one soldier's experience in the Marine Corps, including time spent in Iraq during the first Iraq War. JARHEAD revels in the soldier's aimless morality and nihilism. There is abundant sex, nudity, foul language, and drinking, but it's usually brief, except for the foul language, which is constant.

Review:

JARHEAD doesn’t try to offer a play-by-play of the first war in Iraq but focuses on the emotional challenges faced by a squad of young Marines. Fortunately, it avoids politics for the most part and tells a moving, informative (but fairly obscene) story.

Anthony Swofford, “Swoff”, joins the Marines after high school more for lack of direction than patriotic impulse. Basic training shows that he has little in common with the more serious minded soldiers, but his shooting skills get him promoted to sniper, a coveted role. Swoff is locked in a battle between his apathy for life, his drive to succeed at something, and pressure from the Marines. Stakes rise when his platoon is sent to Iraq. They must face separation from their families as well as a dangerous mission that they don’t fully understand.

Characters connect the war to oil interests, but the platoon’s mentor silences those questions and sets the tone for other soldiers: “[Forget] politics; we’re here.” Once in Iraq, the Marines give themselves to the cause and prepare for battle around the clock.

Loneliness and boredom turn out to be their biggest enemies. Because war is increasingly fought with airborne technology, the men on the ground have little to do but train and think. They constantly worry that their wives back home are going to cheat and that they will have nothing to go back to. JARHEAD’s greatest dramatic strength is showing the isolation that soldiers experience, territory similar to some Hemingway stories like “Big Two-Hearted River.” Loneliness compounds the stress they face in battle, occasionally leaving these particular Marines on the edge of emotional breakdown.

Most often the soldiers bury their stress under aggression. Several skirmishes break out inside the platoon, and Swoff holds a gun to the temple of one of his tentmates. The soldiers’ constant use of the ‘f’ word is the verbal manifestation of their anger, and even their discussions of sex are tainted by a faint hostile temperament. It is very telling that, at the war’s end, they celebrate by firing guns. Destruction has become a release.

The closest Swoff and his platoon come to combatants are when they encounter four men on camels in the middle of the desert. After a moment of tension, no hostilities are exchanged, and the soldiers and the men on camels simply walk away. Pointlessness defines the mission in Swoff’s mind. He’s not resentful about it though, as he has no plan for his life and might not fault the military if they didn’t have one, either. He admires the staff sergeant, played by Jamie Foxx, but can’t connect to his sense of purpose or spiritual grounding. The sergeant reads the Bible while Swoff takes his cues from the famed nihilist Camus.

JARHEAD revels in some of Swoff’s aimless morality. There is a lot of sex, nudity, foul language, and drinking. Sexual images and dialogue are used several times to reveal soldiers’ mental states, and it is explicit but always brief. There is male and female nudity, plus depicted sex. The foul language count is just shy of 200 instances, which is unreasonably high. Also, one soldier uses a connection to sneak vodka into the camp, and the Marines get drunk and cause damage to their equipment.

Obviously, JARHEAD is neither intended nor appropriate for younger audiences. Its insights into war are challenging, and, more importantly, they seem realistic. MOVIEGUIDE® discourages the use of foul language in movies, even though some soldiers use just such language. The non-sensationalized sexual content pushes the envelope further. And, because the movie perceives life as essentially futile, its perspective is flawed.

In terms of learning about the military experience, JARHEAD is both more enthralling and informative than a weak documentary like GUNNER PALACE. Yet for so many reasons, Christians must use maximum caution before choosing to see it.

In Brief:

IN BRIEF:

JARHEAD is the account of one soldier's experience in the Marine Corps. Anthony Swofford joins the Marines after high school more for lack of direction than patriotic impulse. Basic training shows that he has little in common with the more serious minded soldiers, but his shooting skills get him promoted to sniper, a coveted role. Swofford is locked in a battle between his apathy for life, his drive to succeed at something, and pressure from the Marines. Stakes rise when his platoon is sent to Iraq. They must face separation from their families as well as a dangerous mission that they don’t fully understand.

Characters connect the war to oil interests, but the platoon’s mentor silences those questions and sets the tone for other soldiers: “[Forget] politics; we’re here.” Once in Iraq, the Marines give themselves to the cause and prepare for battle around the clock. Loneliness and boredom turn out to be their biggest enemies. JARHEAD revels in some of Swofford’s aimless morality. There is a lot of sex, nudity, foul language, and drinking. Sexual images and dialogue are used several times to reveal soldiers’ mental states. It is explicit but always brief