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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even among thieves and con artists, loyalty is a must. Also, love can sometimes be the only way out of a really big mess.
Positive Role Models
Irving isn't a pillar of decency by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have standards and approaches his line of work with zeal and respect. Also, he truly loves his step-son and makes sacrifices for him. Sydney is lost, sometimes sad, but bold and hardworking, and truly loves Irving, even though he's married to someone else. Sydney is a force to be reckoned with, mistress of her fate. She and Irving have an equal relationship.
Violence & Scariness
This is not a violence-packed movie, but there are a few key moments of brutality. A man shoots someone at point blank (it's a brief but visceral scene). A woman finds herself hitting a man hard with a picture frame after he refuses to stop making advances toward her. A man beats a co-worker with a phone; again, it's brief, but long enough for us to get a sense of the moment's brutality.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman's wardrobe consists almost entirely of plunging necklines that show off her cleavage. A man and a woman go into a bathroom stall, and he's shown lifting up her skirt and making out with her while they discuss whether to have sex or not. Another couple is shown kissing passionately, and it's suggested that they sleep together, though we don't see any explicit sexual activity.
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Swear words galore, including "ass," "s--t," "son-of-a-bitch," bulls--t," and "motherf--ker."
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Products & Purchases
Some old-school brands, including Pimm's, Chase, Skippy, Cheez Whiz, and New York's Plaza Hotel.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief scenes showing adults snorting coke and smoking weed. Lots of social drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Hustle is an intoxicating, brilliant -- but mature -- drama that will leave viewers breathless with its audacity and streak of humor. There's not a ton of violence or sexual activity, but the themes are intense and adult (reinvention, one-upsmanship, overarching ambition infidelity, an unhappy marriage). The movie also includes brief scenes of drug use and loads of swearing including multiple instances of "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
American Hustle immerses you in its pounding intensity from the very beginning, and it only accelerates from there. The moment we see Christian Bale's paunchy swindler create his intricate comb-over, we know we're in Wonderland territory. Nothing will be as it seems. And what comes next is a joy of non-linear storytelling, conjuring a world that still seems familiar despite being set decades ago. It's bold and operatic and unafraid. The ensemble is fantastic, led by Bale who leaves any vanity at the door to churn out a performance filled with layers. He's criminal and loving and admirable, even in the worst circumstances. Adams is stunning -- there's no other character like her Sydney. You root for them both, as well as Irving's nutty wife, and the politician, Mayor Carmine Pollito, who gets caught in the dragnet.
Just when you think the movie can't get any better, American Hustle pulls another brilliant sleight of hand, sending the plot careening in a new mind-bending direction. You'll find yourself holding your breath often, and not because the characters are pulling some feat-of-physicality stunt. The subjects are grand and complicated, and the story has the makings of a classic heist film. But, at the heart of it all -- and this is what makes it so memorable and insightful -- is a quest for love and partnership.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.