Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid all the violence and stereotypical characterizations is the idea that perseverance is one of the ways to meet your goals, even when it seems like everything is against you.
Positive Role Models
Not many role models here, but some characters do have goals and dreams that they're trying to achieve. John, for instance, is an art forger who's trying to be a legitimate business owner, and he comes up against opposition and struggles when trying to open his gallery. Michael is a new mafia don, but he's also trying to live a life of being a famed artist and wants his artistry recognized by others.
Characters are portrayed in ways drawn from racial and cultural stereotypes; i.e. the Italian mafia family, Chinese triads, and an Indian taxi driver with an accent. Women in general are highly sexualized, and women of color are specifically sexualized. Sarah is shown fully nude (while covered in paint) for a long sex scene, and art forger/possible triad member Asia (whose name reduces her role to, literally, "a Chinese woman") is shown kissing another woman in a relationship that seems to only exist for the male gaze. A character's narcolepsy is played for comedic relief but is very clearly not a true representation of people with narcolepsy. There's a line about Mexicans taking all the jobs Americans don't want. The line is delivered by a Black bartender who's dressed like Jimi Hendrix and is meant as a commentary on American politics. There is also a scene with a protest march against an amorphous man in power, also suggesting that the film wants to engage in political commentary. But neither scene goes far enough to make any salient points.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Many scenes of violence, including gunfights, blood spatter, car chases, building explosions, car explosions, and descriptions of off-screen violence. Scene with a dead body with bullet wounds on a pool float.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Scenes with full-body nudity and nudity from the waist up. A long sex scene, as well as a scene with hypersexual kissing. Description of Andy Warhol's depiction of Marilyn Monroe looking like "she just had her brains f---ed out."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Frequent use of words/phrases including "f--k," "a--hole," "motherf---er," "eat s--t," "f--k off," and "holy f---in' s--tballs." "Psycho" is used in an ableist form. Exclamatory use "oh my God."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Many mentions of popular artists and their work, such as Andy Warhol and his "Pink Marilyn."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Scenes with drinking and smoking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Night is a thriller set in the mafia underworld. The film tries to infuse the genre with new life through characters who are interested in fine art and philosophy, but it's overlong and confusing. Not to mention very mature: Expect scenes with murder, blood, explosions, gunfights, car chases, and a dead body. There's a long sex scene involving a woman who's naked other than a layer of paint; people are also shown nude from the waist up. Women, especially women of color, are sexualized, and many characters are portrayed in ways that are drawn from stereotype. Characters drink and smoke, and there's lots of swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," and many more. Emile Hirsch, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Paz Vega, and Jeremy Piven co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Clocking at a too-long 123 minutes, American Night is a pretty tiring movie-watching experience. It tries to reinvent the mafia film by injecting a fine-art angle, but it feels forced. Michael Rubino (Hirsch), the heir apparent of his mafia family, wants to become a fine artist; art forger John Kaplan (Meyers) wants to open an art gallery and repair his relationship with art historian Sarah (Vega); and his brother, Vincent (Piven), a failed film stuntman, must find his path to enlightenment. While a film about a mafioso who wants to live out his artistic dreams could be unique and interesting, the story here is a mish-mash of ideas and aesthetics that seem like something that a stereotypical art school freshman would find cool. An overabundance of name-dropping -- Warhol, Bruce Lee, Italian futurism, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, etc. -- bloats the film. And there's a butchering of Lee's "Be like water" interview clip (which is already overused to the point of cliche) and other infusions of "Asian philosophy" through a tired, Western lens.
The film also traffics in racial and cultural stereotypes; of course there's a Catholic funeral for an Italian mob boss that ends in bloodshed. Of course the women of the family are in widow's weeds, looking solemn. Of course there's an Asian woman literally named "Asia" who's also in a lesbian relationship seemingly just for the male gaze. And of course she's also somehow affiliated with a triad gang in China. To top it off, the film's story doesn't make much sense. Hirsch, Meyers, Vega, and Piven all do fine jobs with what they're given and turn out surprisingly emotional performances that elevate the source material. But despite the film's self-importance and obsession with privileged ideas, viewers won't come away knowing why Michael can't just leave his family to become the artist he always wanted to be, why John's relationship failed, or why Vincent's stunt career was going down the drain. We don't learn about many important elements of the story. Instead, we just learn that the film's writer knows a lot about the topics he's interested in. Exploring your interests in film is cool, but there also has to be a cogent story to go along with it.
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.