Parents' Guide to

A Simple Plan

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Masterful thriller about greed has violence, language.

Movie R 1998 121 minutes
A Simple Plan Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

The complexity of too much money, too soon

A convoluted film that makes you wince at the lengths people's greed will take them and the complexity of having too much money at one time. I would have given this more stars except for the quick turn to crazy town that every one seems to take, especially Fonda's character. She goes from let's turn it in to go back to the scene of the crime...too much too soon. However Thornton's character is once again fantastic in his portrayal and lights up every scene he is in.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Sam Raimi's neo-noir masterpiece is a story of greed and nervous waiting and decaying civility; it brilliantly balances gut-clenching suspense and dynamic violence with nuanced, engaging characters. Expertly adapted by Scott B. Smith from his own debut novel, A Simple Plan reveals a new maturity in director Raimi, best known for his frenzied Evil Dead cult horror movies and his high-spirited hit Spider-Man movies. The movie's use of snow and intertwining, spiderweb-like tree branches visually establishes a sense of entrapment, and images of Hank and Sarah's happy home life slowly taken over by the money's corrupting power create strong drama.

The characters are also key, from Paxton's college-educated Hank, who likes to take charge, to Thornton's slow-witted Jacob, who occasionally surprises with demonstrations of his own kind of inner wisdom (Thornton received an Oscar nomination). Fonda rises above the usual third-wheel wife character with Sarah's own whip-smart cleverness; she's almost a femme fatale. Even Briscoe's Lou avoids a backwoods hillbilly stereotype, instead finding his inner pain and defense mechanisms. Raimi pulls all these elements together into a movie that's strongly visual as well as character-driven, and constantly gripping as well as frequently touching. A Simple Plan easily ranks among the greatest film noirs of all time.

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