Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her younger sister have just lost their mother. They’re being abused by their angry stepfather (Gerard Plunkett), who has been left out of their mother’s will. Unable to put up with her stepfather’s abuse of her younger sister, Baby Doll tries to shoot him. When her younger sister is killed instead, the stepfather accuses Baby Doll of the crime and she’s committed to Lennox House, a psychiatric asylum. There Baby Doll overhears her stepfather bribing an orderly named Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) to arrange a lobotomy for her, to be done in five days.
At Lennox House, Dr Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) uses theatre techniques to treat her patients. Baby Doll makes friends with four girls – Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). Baby Doll soon learns that she has a talent for dance. When she dances, she imagines herself into fantasy worlds where she’s in control and fighting zombies, dragons, robots and other evil beings. She incorporates her friends into these other realities along with The Wise Man (Scott Glenn), who gives her advice on reaching freedom.
Baby Doll tells the other girls about her escape plan. They begin working against great odds to collect what they need to make a bid for freedom.
Loss of a parent; sexual abuse; mental illness and mental institutions
Sucker Punch contains fantasy action violence, and real-world verbal and physical violence, including sexual abuse. For example:
- Her drunken stepfather forces his way into Baby Doll’s room and rips the front of her top. She lashes out, scratching his face with her fingernails. He leaves, locking her in her room.
- Baby Doll’s sister cowers in her wardrobe as her stepfather violently kicks the bedroom door open. Baby Doll, standing behind her stepfather, aims a handgun at him and fires. The bullet misses him, hitting a light and a pipe. Baby Doll’s sister slumps on the floor. Baby Doll holds her dead sister in her arms with the young girl’s blood on her hands. Baby Doll once more aims a gun at her stepfather’s head, but can’t shoot him.
- Baby Doll is surrounded by several police officers, who drag her away. She is restrained and injected with a drug.
- During a therapy session, two girls get into an argument and then a fight. They pull each other’s hair and push and shove each other.
- A young woman punches a large man in the face. He grabs her and slams her head into a wall and then throws her to the ground. It looks like the man is going to rape her when a second young woman holds a large cook’s knife to his throat and tells him to let the girl go.
- In a fantasy battle, Baby Doll fights giant samurai warriors. She’s thrown through a wooden door. She uses her sword to slash a giant’s knee and then slices his throat. Red light streams out of the cuts as the giant crashes to the ground. One giant fires rockets and thousands of machine gun bullets at Baby Doll. Baby Doll leaps onto a giant’s chest and shoots it directly in the eye. She uses her sword to slice one giant statue through its mid-section. Red light comes out of the wounds.
- In a fantasy World War II battle, the five young women use stylised martial arts fighting to kick and punch their mechanical enemies in the face and back. They also use gun stocks to bludgeon the heads of their enemies. They use swords to stab their enemies in the throat, chest and legs. No blood and gore is shown, and the women aren’t hurt.
- In a fantasy battle with robots, the young women use swords to chop off robot arms, legs and heads. There are numerous slow-motion images of robots blown apart. A robot with a powered circular saw for a hand tries to attack one of the young women. Robots are cut in half. Severed torsos crawl after their attackers.
- A man slaps a young woman hard across the face, knocking her to the ground. He stands over her, holding a large cook’s knife. There’s a slicing sound as he stabs her with the knife.
- Blue Jones shoots two young women in the back of the head. The bodies fall to the ground, and onlookers gasp in horror.
- Baby Doll kicks a man in the groin, and he punches her in the face in response.
- Blue Jones pushes Baby Doll against a desk and attempts to kiss her. Baby Doll grabs a knife and stabs him in the shoulder. Blue Jones screams out in pain.
- Baby Doll seems to be given a lobotomy with a sharp spike through the eye.
- After the lobotomy, Blue begins to sexually assault Baby Doll, but he’s dragged away.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- In the opening scenes, there’s a dead body on a table covered by a sheet. A young woman and a girl cry when the sheet’s pulled back.
- The movie has scary fantasy characters including giant samurai warriors with glowing eyes, faceless robots, mechanical zombie soldiers, fire-breathing dragons and other strange creatures.
- One scene shows the image of a man with a grotesquely scarred and disfigured face.
- Baby Doll slits a baby dragon’s throat and delves into the wound to get two precious stones covered in clear sticky fluid.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and scary scenes described above.
Younger children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- A man talks about helpless mental patients being ‘hot’.
- A young woman is shown a series of rooms in a hall and told that ‘these are the room where we take the clients’. Characters talk about ‘bringing in clients and making them feel special’. Characters talk about one young woman being saved for the ‘High Roller’ and about her not being a virgin.
- A man lusting after a young woman says, ‘Everyone gets to play with the toys but me’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- The stepfather drinks and gets drunk.
- Baby Doll is injected with a sedative and quickly falls asleep.
- A man smokes cigars.
- A man sells drugs to make money.
- People drink in a bar.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- There are sexual assaults and attempted rapes, described above.
- Young women wear skimpy dance costumes with low-cut tops. They also wear short shorts, micro-mini skirts with slits up the side, bikini tops, tight-fitting shirts, corsets and tight-fitting, low-cut dresses.
- A young woman tells another woman to distract a man. Later she sits on his lap, nuzzling his neck and rubbing his chest as other women dance for an audience of men.
None of concern
This movie has some coarse language, name-calling and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Sucker Punch is a fantasy action adventure targeting an adolescent and younger adult audience. Its themes, violence and scary scenes make it unsuitable for younger teenagers.
The message this movie wants to send is that you can survive if you find inner strength and empower yourself.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include self-sacrifice, courage and friendship.
You could talk with your children about the conflicting messages in this movie. On one hand, the movie is saying that young women can be self-empowered superheroes. But the movie sends these self-empowered women into battle wearing sexual lingerie, push-up bras, micro-mini skirts, and tight-fitting dresses. The same women characters are also shown as sexual playthings and fair game for exploitation by men.