Box art for Parkland


  • Rated PG13
  • HD and SD formats available

drama, thrillers

November 22, 1963 is a day that changed the world forever when beloved American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. PARKLAND is the true story behind that tragic day.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 14
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
3 out of 5

JFK movie captures mood but omits a great deal; some blood.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Parkland tells the story of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 through the eyes of some of the story's minor players -- for example, Abraham Zapruder, Lee Harvey Oswald's brother, the doctors who tried to save the president, and the Secret Service agents who weren't able to protect him. It's not clear whether teens will be interested in this type of history, and they might be better served to look elsewhere for a clearer idea of who Kennedy was, what he did, what happened to him, and why it mattered. Expect some gruesome, bloody hospital scenes and lots of arguing. Language isn't frequent but does include some strong words (one use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," etc.). There's a brief scene of Zac Efron flirting with a nurse, and many of the characters smoke cigarettes in a casual way (accurate for the time period).

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the effect that violence has on Parkland's characters. How do they react? How does the bloody/gory hospital scene fit into the movie?
  • Does this movie give an idea of who Kennedy was? Or is it more about how he affected people? What's the difference? How does this movie compare to any other JFK movies you may have seen?
  • Two of the characters are interested in making money from the tragedy. How does the movie view them?
  • Who are the bravest and noblest of the characters? Are they role models? What can you learn from them?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Parkland reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Methodically and with generally unfailing good restraint, Landesman re-creates the grief surrounding the crime and the confusion of Oswald's capture and subsequent murder.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rotten: Kennedy specialists will glean nothing new, and those hoping for sobriety will flinch at the camera's intrusions.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fresh: "Parkland" succeeds as it fails. For whatever its flaws, it is unforgettable.

- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, October 3, 2013

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Until the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 there was arguably no date more infamous in post-World War II America than that of November 22, 1963. It was on that day nearly 50 years ago that our 35th President, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in his motorcade through Dallas, Texas. The imagery and details of that day are unforgettable even for those of us who were born long after it happened: a magic bullet, Jackie's pink suit and matching pillbox hat, the Zapruder film, the book depository, Lee Harvey Oswald, Walter Cronkite choking up, and of course those rumors of a second gunman on the grassy knoll. These elements have pervaded the popular culture through an endless supply of films, documentaries, TV specials, books, and more conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick it, but a new film seeks to tell the full story of that day and the days that followed by giving us a glimpse of the more peripheral characters and the roles they played. Named after Parkland Memorial Hospital where both President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald were brought with their gunshot wounds, Parkland enlists a remarkable cast under first time director Peter Landesman to give us the untold story of the day that changed America forever. Naturally, a good chunk of the film takes place in the hospital where doctors (Zac Efron and Colin Hanks) and nurses (Marcia Gay Harden) fight in vain to save the life of the president and then also his assassin. But this is much more than a medical drama. We also spend significant amounts of screentime with Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) who shot the only known footage of the actual assassination, an FBI agent (Ron Livingston) who was investigating Oswald prior to the shooting, Oswald's mother (Jacki Weaver) and brother (James Badge Dale) living in the aftermath, and members of the Secret Service who are not only coping with the first loss of a president on their watch but getting him back to Washington, DC despite laws requiring that body remain in Texas. The highlight for me was without a doubt Giamatti as Zapruder. In the film he kind of represents the one "normal guy" witness to the event that we get to meet. He is a man traumatized by what he has seen but is also forced to relive it when it is discovered by a federal agent (Billy Bob Thornton) that he captured the whole thing on film. Knowing instantly that he has become a sort of custodian to a piece of history, we get to see Zapruder very protectively work with the feds to development the film (a new technology at the time) and then agonize over selling it to the press in hopes that it only be used tastefully. It is such a small slice of history but with him being the only character in the film without close, personal ties to either the President or Oswald, he sort of becomes the everyman that we relate to and latch onto most. On the flip side of that, it is hard to not also get a little bit wrapped up in the family of Oswald as they cope with the news that he probably killed the president in very different ways. Oswald's brother Robert is clearly in shock and embarrassed by the whole thing despite putting up a strong front, while his mother seems to teeter on the edge of sanity by almost being proud of it. The real meat of their story comes out though when we get to witness their funeral for Oswald where only reporters are available to help be pallbearers and move his coffin to the burial site. Another point of high fascination is the struggle to move the President's body from Parkland Memorial to Air Force One for a flight back to DC. Texas law required a medical examination to take place in the case of a murder which therefore would've forced the President's body to remain behind, but Secret Service agents (led by an ever dreamy Tom Welling) essentially fought their way out of Parkland with the casket and then forcibly shoved it onto Air Force One with a somewhat lack of respect for the dead. All fascinating historical tidbits asides it's hard to call Parkland anything much more than a mediocre film. Sure, everything is competent enough on a technical level and the actors all turn in believable work in their respective roles (yes, even Efron as a heart surgeon), but the gap here is really on a script and conceptual level. The various pieces don't really come together to make any grand statement and when all is said and done the film kind of forgets about the man at the heart of it all: John F. Kennedy. In dealing with only the minutiae of that day and the days that followed we lose a sense of why this is all still worth talking about in the first place. Who was the man that we lost that day? How did his untimely death change us as a nation? Why are so many still so moved by his loss? One might argue that these questions have been asked and answered in other formats and other films but I can't help but think that by skipping over them Parkland lost it's chance to have a bigger impact that could have been as memorable as the real event itself. Instead, it is merely a film of anecdotes calling for it's larger narrative. Grade: B-

- fb5320086, Sunday, October 6, 2013

4 stars

A detailed, poetic panorama of days and people directly caught up in the assassination of President Kennedy.

- ourprez, Friday, October 4, 2013

3 stars

As a JFK guy, this was admittedly disappointing. It didn't really offer much other than a faithful retelling of the assassination and a few events afterwards. It does give some perspective from the lessor people like Oswald's brother and Abraham Zepruder which is interesting. But the whole time I'm watching I'm just thinking, why was this made? I suppose if you don't care much for the conspiracy its a good watch just to get acquainted to what happened. But I doubt those kind of people would even bother with this. I give it credit for being competently made, but that's about it.

- fb17011435, Wednesday, October 16, 2013