A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this tense "trouble in paradise" thriller has lots of bloody violence, from fistfights and beatings to shootings, stabbings, and even mutilation of a murder victim (shown on screen). There's also some drinking and drug use, a good bit of strong language (including "f--k"), and scenes with naked male and female buttocks (plus some implied toplessness). Parents also need to know that this review is for the theatrical rated version of the film.
What's the story?
Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) are enjoying their honeymoon on Kauai, getting ready to hike a gorgeous 11-mile trail. Their only concern? News that couple has been found dead in Honolulu, seemingly murdered by a pair of male-female killers who may have come from Oahu to Kauai ... just like Cliff and Cydney did. As the happy honeymooners run into seemingly friendly Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez) and the more ominous Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton), it becomes clear that any friendly face out in the beautiful middle of nowhere could be the mask of a killer.
Is it any good?
Directed by David Twohy (the man behind cult success Pitch Black), A PERFECT GETAWAY is stylish, slick, and utterly hollow. As a whole, the film doesn't hold up to more than a moment of scrutiny -- but, at the same time, as it's unfolding, you'll probably be too distracted by the gore and tension to care. The film's twist may or may not be a cheat (you'd probably have to go back for a second viewing to determine whether that's the case, and that seems like a fairly cheerless prospect). But while it's playing -- well-shot, well-cut, well-acted -- A Perfect Getaway is a fleeting pleasure for mature audiences who like being scared.
Part of that is the beauty of the Hawaiian setting (although parts of the film were shot in Puerto Rico) -- but another big part is Twohy's clean, simple direction and the caliber of the performers he landed for a fairly modest-seeming thriller. Zahn and Jovovich make their happy newlyweds more interesting than you'd think, and Olyphant and Sanchez keep you on your toes when you have to ask whether they are or aren't the killers. A Perfect Getaway is, ironically, far from perfect -- but it's a nice enough little vacation for your mind.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Does it have more or less impact than what you've seen in other movies? Why? Does violence have to be bloody to be disturbing?
What do you think of movies that make a big deal out of having a "twist" ending? What separates a great twist from a cheap gimmick?
What dangers are involved in travel? How can travellers protect themselves?
- In theaters: August 7, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 29, 2009
- Cast: Milla Jovovich, Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant
- Director: David Twohy
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic violence, language including sexual references and some drug use
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.