August: Osage County

  • Review Date: December 19, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Affecting but exhausting dysfunctional-family drama.
  • Review Date: December 19, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Age

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Families can sustain you, but they can also be so dysfunctional that they're not healthy. Secrets are destructive, and the truth usually comes out anyway.

Positive role models

The film's full of very angry characters coming to terms with the reasons for their anger, colliding with others in the process. Practically nobody comes across as any kind of role model in this film that centers on a bitter, drug-addicted matriarch of a highly dysfunctional family. A few characters try to do the right thing, but their motivations or methods are questionable.

Violence

Several intense arguments among family members, most instigated by cruel goading from their bitter matriarch. Some escalate into screaming fights and at one point the adult daughter tries to wrestle the mother to the ground to take a bottle of pills from her hands. A man is assaulted with a frying pan as he attempts to seduce a young teenage girl.

Sex

Several references to sexual relationships, including adultery and incest. A middle-aged man attempts to seduce a 14-year-old girl, isolating her and trying to kiss her. Three adult sisters have an entire conversation about the best term to use to refer to their mother's vagina.

 

Language

Plenty of swearing all through the film, including "Goddamn," "s--t," "bitch," "c--t," "---hole," numerous variations of "f--k," and many other creative uses of profanity.

Consumerism

One character drives a red Ferrari convertible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A main character is addicted to prescription drugs and pops pills through much of the film. Her husband is a long-time alcoholic. Other characters smoke cigarettes and drink socially in several scenes. A middle-aged man discusses his desire to smoke pot and later shares a joint with a teenage girl. Several types of medications are mentioned by name, including Valium, OxyContin, Percoset, Dilaudid, Xanax and more.
 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that August: Osage County is an intense drama about a dysfunctional family and the chaos that erupts in the wake of a suicide that triggers several difficult revelations. There are several bitter arguments as an Oklahoma family's deepest secrets are revealed, along with healthy doses of profanity (including "f--k" and "c--t"), drinking, and smoking. Adultery, incest, and attempted sexual assault are part of the overall story. The main character pops prescription pills like jelly beans and one middle-aged man smokes pot with a teenage girl.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A cinematic adaptation of Tracy Letts' award-winning play, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY finds the Westons without their patriarch, Beverley (Sam Shepard), who has disappeared once more. It's not just one of his drunken escapes, though. He's dead. His middle child, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), the dutiful daughter, tries to maintain her composure as she consoles her mother, Violet (Meryl Streep), who's perpetually enraged and pill-addicted, and not just because she's suffering from mouth cancer. Her youngest daughter, Karen (Juliette Lewis), arrives, toting her determinedly sunny (and blind-to-the-truth) self and her Ferrari-driving businessman fiance (Dermot Mulroney), in tow. Violet's sister, Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale), tries to prop her up, but she's preoccupied by her son's (Benedict Cumberbatch) failings, a fact that angers her husband (Chris Cooper), who feels for his son. And then there's the eldest, Barbara (Julia Roberts), traveling with her teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) and her estranged husband (Ewan Macgregor), and whom Violet says was the closest to Beverley; she can barely contain her disdain for her mother. Watching it all is Johnna (Misty Upham), a nurse Beverley hired to care for Violet.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

For the cast alone, August: Osage County deserves all the praise in the world. No one holds back here -- not Streep, nor the amazing Martindale and Cooper, and especially not Roberts, who's absolutely fantastic, spitting nails with her bitterness and fury. And it's just as well, because all the roles call for leaving nothing at the table.

Still, there's little relief. That makes for a powerful movie that leaves you aghast, mouth hanging open at the ferocity with which families can hurt. But it also leaves you so fatigued and spent, it's hard to understand why one should continue to bear witness to it all any longer. But here's why: The script, a truncated version of the play, is loaded with a big surprise that drives home the horror of family, of buried history, of secrets.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts family. Does any part of the story feel familiar to you? Do you notice anything about this fictional family that seems more or less realistic than other families in movies?

  • What is harder to endure: a movie packed with unrealistic gun violence or a film like this, full of family tension and bitterness? What kind of movie is more satisfying?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 25, 2013
DVD release date:April 8, 2014
Cast:Chris Cooper, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep
Director:John Wells
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Genre:Drama
Topics:Brothers and sisters
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language including sexual references, and for drug material

This review of August: Osage County was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous March 5, 2015
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Sweet but mature family drama is full of salty language

My rating:R for sexual references and language throughout
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah January 17, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

It's like Tracy Letts butchered his own creation.

What a mess. Anyone could tell that this is an adaptation, which a good movie shouldn't be defined as. This is based off of a three hour play (which I haven't seen so my thoughts are totally objective) and the playwright himself adapted the film, but it totally feels like he didn't know what to leave out to achieve a two hour running time. In regards to the writing, they bring up every single conceivable domestic drama issue and implicate every single person, and it's all just so clichéd and numbing. Every time they introduce another issue, you literally groan because it's borderline outlandish and these characters don't do ANYTHING to help each other. This isn't a satire or a farce so it shouldn't be funny but they portray these people like, "Hey! Look at these silly people with their despicable personalities and endless problems!" No, these people are completely certifiable and no one tries to even care for anyone else despite the fact that they all seem to be on the verge of suicide. Nothing ever lands a laugh anyways. Next, they don't even conclude any storylines. It's not like this is the type of material that warrants interpretation, so it just comes off as lazy and incomplete. The introduce stuff just so they can heighten everyone's stress level and make everyone seem even more ridiculous and then the characters just leave and never come back. Honestly, one would think that they lost the last fifteen pages of the script. There's no emotional investment; the filmmakers just rely on the actors' talents to buoy the movie as much as they can. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were great (of course) and everyone else is good, but the rest don't get enough time or development to actually warrant their appearances. This is an extremely rare case when I'd say that a movie would have benefited from being longer, since you can tell that they gutted everything good out of the source material, leaving no universality or reality to these people. 4.5/10, bad, two thumbs down, below mediocre, etc.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byMelissa4693 April 18, 2014
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Language

I wanted to relax and enjoy two of my favorite actresses, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. I had to turn the movie off after about 20 minutes due to the amount of curse words. I don't know anyone that uses that much foul language! A movie doesn't have to be squeaky clean but this was OVERKILL in the cursing department. Pass on this movie unless you're able to tune out the bad language :(
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written bycj98 February 23, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Not just a movie, a FILM

I was left speechless by this film, it was amazing in all aspects. It's probably not suitable for most kids under my age (15), but it depicts a shockingly accurate depiction of a lot of families today (minus the incest hopefully). None of the characters should be seen as role models, that's for sure, and the only good messages here are knowing when to walk away and caring enough to get someone off drugs no matter what. It has a couple mildly violent scene--one where one daughter attacks a main character to get a pill bottle away from her and one where someone gets hit with a frying pan. Sex is not present, but a middle aged married man comes onto a 13 year old while they are high together. There is a lot of swearing and drugs and alcohol play big parts in the story.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass