By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
It really is almost impressive how bad this is.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Dead body Jump-out-at-you surprises, suspense
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual references and situations
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Just enough to avoid an R rating
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
College-age kids use drugs and drink; character is an alcoholic
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie shows a girl's decision to lose her virginity and her unrealistic expectations about the relationship. There are overheard sounds of a couple having sex. Characters casually drink and use drugs. One intoxicated character is so happy that she says she wishes she could always feel so "connected." Another character struggles with alcoholism.
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
Painfully sloppy w/ gaping holes left bowing in the breeze and in my face!
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What's the Story?
Katie Holmes plays a brilliant and beautiful college senior who seems to have everything. She aces an interview with McKinsey, the brass ring of employers. But she is having problems completing her thesis and she has trouble sleeping. And when a detective shows up asking questions about her boyfriend, who disappeared two years earlier, it brings back painful memories and deepens her sense of loss. The detective (Benjamin Bratt) is facing his own challenges, taking on his first case after returning from alcohol rehab.
Is It Any Good?
Abandon is one of those movies that depends heavily on bonehead plot twists in which people behave inconsistently and idiotically. Included is that oldest of movie plots -- characters showing up alone in eerie and isolated locations for assignations with potential murderers. There are many shadowy hallways, crumbling walls, and dripping pipes. There are gratuitous scenes of college kids at a debauched party (a throwback to writer/director Stephen Gaghan's scene of teenagers taking drugs in Traffic) and of Holmes changing her clothes. The missing boyfriend is supposed to be talented, arrogant, and electrifyingly seductive, but the flashback scenes of their encounters are clumsily handled. The surprise ending is telegraphed halfway through the movie.
Given the talent involved, it really is almost impressive how bad this movie is. The direction is poor, and the screenplay is awful. Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, whose work in "Requiem for a Dream" was brilliantly innovative, manages to make Katie Holmes and Benjamin Bratt look so unattractive they should consider a defamation lawsuit.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the jealousy some characters feel. What are "problem people?" Do they choose to be (or not be) "problem people?" What does the title refer to? What do you think about the job interview scene? If you were asked to solve a problem in an interview, how would you respond? What were the students? concerns about "selling out?"
- In theaters: October 18, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: March 18, 2003
- Cast: Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Katie Holmes
- Director: Stephen Gaghan
- Inclusion Information: Indigenous actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: drug and alcohol content, sexuality, some violence and language.
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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