Parents' Guide to

American Murderer

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

True crime drama misses the mark; language, sex, drugs.

Movie R 2022 102 minutes
American Murderer Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

age 14+

Shows the real issues and imbalances of our system

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

The hunt for criminal on the run Brown is interesting but not extraordinarily cinematic. The looming question is: Why tell Brown's story? His criminal acts, as portrayed in American Murderer, are despicable, but they don't rise to the level of some others who top the FBI's Most Wanted list. Psychological insights can be compelling in these types of stories, but little is offered other than to suggest that Brown was following in the footsteps of his father -- and even that's underwhelming. The FBI agent (Ryan Phillippe) hot on Brown's trail lacks dimension; it feels like Brown is just another perp he has to pursue. Movies aren't made about just any suspect or just another investigation -- viewers need to feel like they're watching THE case and THE suspect in the career of an investigator. Otherwise, why bother?

At least, due to Pelphrey's fantastic performance, Brown isn't portrayed with empathy or made aspirational. The movie depicts Brown as a cocky, world-class scumbag. He's loud, obnoxious, and bereft of morals or conscience. If the film had a different ending, audiences might want to see more nuance, but Brown isn't a guy who particularly deserves compassion. And kudos to the hair and wardrobe departments: Pelphrey's blonde spikes, co-star Idina Menzel's aggressive bangs, and the belly-baring blouses nail the early 2000s setting. But beyond those impressive elements, the reason that anyone would want to spend time retracing the steps of a jerk like Brown proves elusive.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 21, 2022
  • On DVD or streaming: October 28, 2022
  • Cast: Tom Pelphrey , Ryan Phillippe , Idina Menzel
  • Director: Matthew Gentile
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Saban Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 102 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: pervasive language, drug use, some sexual content/nudity and violence
  • Last updated: April 20, 2023

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