A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Politicians, lawmen, and reporters engage in corrupt activities (including graft, blackmail, and exchanges of favors).
Violence & Scariness
Characters fight, awkwardly; there's talk of a school fire that kills children (but only the funeral is shown on screen); after a suicide by shooting, there's blood on the wall; two men are shot to death, with blood on the bodies and oozing onto the floor around them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many images of women in the movie seem based solely on men's fantasies. Dancers on stage reveal cleavage, legs, and bottoms to Willie, who selects each night's sex partner from these semi-private auditions. In repeated flashbacks, Jack watches Anne naked in a river (from the back, in the moonlight) and remembers her undressing for bed, only to be disappointed at his own inaction (all of this is shown from his point of view, and the footage is "romantically" blurry).
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Variation of n-word used by white men; other mild language ("hell").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent cigarette and cigar smoking; a couple of characters are alcoholics, and they and others drink to the point of drunkenness (including passing out).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this intense political drama will probably be of little interest to their kids. Women are sexual objects for men. Some women dance onstage wearing scant clothing and striking provocative poses, while another young woman, romanticized in soft light, appears both naked in a river and undressing for sex with her partner. A politician travels with a bodyguard who carries and shoots a pistol. Two bloody shootings, one of which is a suicide. Characters frequently smoke cigars and cigarettes, and a couple of them are alcoholics. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Ambitious but slow-moving and trite, All the King's Men features a strong performance by Sean Penn. And from the start, Jack takes a complicated sort of high road: The camera looks down on him as he lies in bed, describing the pursuit of "truth" in terms both ethical and professional. He pronounces that such pursuit must be premised on a belief in its potential benefit, already alluding to the great harm that befalls almost everyone in the film who uncovers secrets. What Jack leaves out is the film's more compelling lesson -- that this so-called truth is actually a fiction.
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Our Editors Recommend
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