A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All the Money in the World is a thriller from director Ridley Scott about the real-life 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty's grandson. It's a very well-made film, with some relevant life lessons about the corrupting power of money, but it's also quite violent. Someone's ear is sliced off, and characters are shot and killed, with blood spurts and bloody wounds. There's also a burned corpse and other moments with threats and aggression. Language includes several uses of "f--k." A married couple flirts, and the husband is later shown in a brothel, lying with a woman (presumably a prostitute) as a topless woman -- obscured by shadows -- walks by. The same man is shown to be an alcoholic and is said to be a drug addict. Pot is found in the pages of a book on a teen's bookshelf. One of the main characters (played by Michelle Williams) is a strong, interesting woman who stands up to the powerful men in her life in an inspiring way. The movie earned media scrutiny after star Kevin Spacey was accused of several counts of sexual misconduct and Scott decided to reshoot his scenes with Christopher Plummer; it works seamlessly.
What's the story?
In ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, the grandson of tycoon J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), teenage Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer), is kidnapped from the streets of Rome in 1973. The kidnappers demand $17 million in ransom, but Paul's divorced mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), doesn't have it. She appeals to the elder Getty, who refuses to pay anything. Instead, he spouts ideologies about how to be rich and making good investments to avoid the taxman. But he loves his grandson, so he puts his top security man, Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), on the case. At first, Chase determines that Paul might have had himself kidnapped on purpose to try to trick the old man, but then they learn that he's indeed in danger. Getty finally agrees to put up the highest amount of ransom he can that's still tax deductible, but it's not enough. So Gail gets desperate and comes up with a reckless plan to save her son.
Is it any good?
Despite now-infamous last-minute tinkering, this fact-based tale emerges as a fine pulp thriller, bathed in director Ridley Scott's trademark visual richness and with a few real-world life lessons. In an unprecedented move, Scott decided at the 11th hour to replace all of the J. Paul Getty scenes filmed with previous co-star Kevin Spacey (who was accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct) with Christopher Plummer. But there's no evidence of this rush job in the finished film. Plummer gives a great, truly sinister supporting performance in All the Money in the World as the man to whom a tax write-off is more important than family.
But the bulk of the movie belongs to Williams, who deals quietly with rage and panic and who's accused by reporters of not weeping enough. The younger Plummer -- no relation to Christopher -- is fine as Paul; his relationship with a sympathetic Italian kidnapper (French actor Romain Duris) helps his scenes come alive. Scott uses the Italian settings, the countryside, and Getty's palatial quarters as restricting places: They're spacious but lacking in freedom. As in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, the paparazzi are a constant, buzzing, attacking force here, adding tension at several turns. A few action-oriented set pieces, some chases and escapes, are close to masterful. It's not a perfect, or perhaps very deep, movie, but it's grippingly effective.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is Gail a strong female character? Is she a role model? Why, or why not? What about the other characters?
Why do you think J. Paul Getty wouldn't put up ransom money for his grandson? Does the movie let you understand his point of view? Does it make sense?
Did you know that Kevin Spacey had been replaced in the movie? How do you feel about that decision? How do you think Scott was able to make it happen so quickly?
- In theaters: December 25, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2018
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content
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