Monster's Ball

  • Review Date: July 31, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002

Common Sense Media says

This brutal movie is for adults only.
  • Review Date: July 31, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Brtual violence, excplicit execution, suicide, death of a child.

Sex

Very explicit sexual situations.

Language

Very strong language, including racial epithets.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a brutal movie. It includes an explicit execution, a suicide by gunshot, the death of a child, and extremely explicit sexual situations, including prostitution. There are very disturbing family situations involving emotional and physical abuse. Characters use very strong language, and they drink and smoke.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In MONSTER'S BALL, prison guard Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) clings to his hatred and racism as a way of distancing himself from his loneliness and misery. He throws two black boys off his property, even though they are friends of his son's. When his son (Heath Ledger), also a death row guard, gets sick while escorting a prisoner to execution, Hank brutally assaults him physically and emotionally. Although it is clear that it is Hank's own vulnerability and isolation that terrifies him, the attack and its aftermath are horrifying. Meanwhile, Leticia (Halle Berry), the condemned prisoner's wife, is desperate. Her son drowns his misery in candy and is very overweight. She loses her waitress job, her car breaks down, and she is about to lose her house. Hank and Leticia see their lives as hopelessly bleak, and they get worse as unspeakable tragedy strikes them both. In a way, the tragedy frees them. Having lost everything, there is no longer any reason to try to hold on to old notions and old fears.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The artificiality of the plot is a distraction, at times seeming like a bizarre version of the old Hollywood imperative that the romantic couple has to "meet cute." But Thornton and Berry are magnificent. Berry deservedly won an Oscar for her brave and vulnerable performance. The dignity and poignancy of both performances is deeply moving. Sean Combs is outstanding in his brief appearance as Leticia's husband, demonstrating great dignity and a range of emotion as he prepares for his execution.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how people become racist and how we find help when we need it. Do you agree with what Hank decided about his father? What is Leticia thinking at the very end of the movie? What do you think will happen next?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 8, 2002
DVD release date:June 11, 2002
Cast:Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger
Director:Marc Forster
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Drama
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong sexual content, language and violence

This review of Monster's Ball was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byRachel D April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Horrible and shocking

I don't have the words to say how unprepared I was to see this explicit movie. The language was absolutely horrible, violence (including a graphic suicide) and several sex scenes which were in my opinion pornographic. Nothing worth watching!

Parent Written byStepMomSterToo January 11, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

NO KIDS

This is a gritty real-life movie. No good messages. There's violence, degrading racial references, an extremely vivid sex scene no one under the age of 21 should see. If you watch this with your kids, you just might be a bad parent.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written bySkyrock5 June 4, 2011
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Moving drama has the power to change views on life

The entire film revolves around sensitive and real issues in everyday life - racism, families and death sentences being the 3 main themes in this film. Unfortunately, the explicit scenes, and the tragic execution scene play an important role in this film - obviously, the film isn't for anyone who can't handle it, or anyone not mature enough to. But, I definately recommend it. Heath Ledger's short-lived performance in this film is almost too good to describe, and Halle Berry's portrayal of heart-rending Laticia deserves the awards she rightfully picked up in turn.
A brilliant film, inside and out, it truly shows how the little things in life can build up to change a person completely; how a person with backwards views to everything can suddenly appreciate and turn their life around. Its just sad it took cataclysmic death for it to happen.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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