Authors Anonymous

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Authors Anonymous Movie Poster Image
Tiresome ensemble comedy pokes fun at publishing industry.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's hard to see any clearly positive messages here, since, for the majority of the movie, the only successful novelist is a young woman who prizes herself on literary ignorance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Henry is a good friend to the rest of the group. He's the only one who seems genuinely concerned with the work and the friendships, instead of just being jealous and angry.

Violence

A couple of outbursts from upset people who throw things or otherwise get mad.

Sex

A couple of kisses and implied sex scenes. One is when a woman, wearing only a robe, comes out of a room ready to meet her lover. In another, a bare-chested man calls his girlfriend "babe," and she appears wearing nothing but a man's button-down shirt. Mentions of/references to erotic romance novels.

Language

Occasional strong language and insults include "s--t," "pu--ies," "a--hole," "goddamn," "Jesus H. Christ," "jackass," "washed-up," "idiot," etc.

Consumerism

Featured brands include Audi, Apple, Coke, Sprite, Heineken, and Lafont eyeglasses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults frequently drink (beers, champagne, wine) socially at dinner, restaurants, and parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Authors Anonymous is a mockumentary-style comedy about a writers' group of misfits who are trying to get their books published. Starring The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco, it's not overly risque, but there are allusions to sex, erotic romance novels, some standard strong language ("s--t," "bitch"), and aggressive behavior by a couple of angry, jealous characters. There are also plenty of references to famous authors and their work, but overall this is a straight-up parody of writers' desperation to get published.

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What's the story?

The premise of AUTHORS ANONYMOUS is that documentary filmmakers are following the aspiring authors in a writers' critique group hosted by wealthy optometrist Dr. Alan Mooney (Dylan Walsh) and his romance-writing wife, Colette (Teri Polo). The group consists of the Mooneys, Tom Clancy-loving veteran John K. Butkis (Dennis Farina), Charles Bukowski fan/resident slacker Will (Jonathan Bennett), thoughtful Fitzgerald devotee Henry (Chris Klein), and naive Hannah (Kaley Cuoco), who doesn't know what a metaphor is or who penned Pride and Prejudice but loves to write all the same. Naturally, Hannah ends up being the only one to score a publishing deal, and as her fortune rises, the group members start turning on one another out of bitterness, jealousy, and resentment.

Is it any good?

Unless a director is named Christopher Guest, chances are slim that their mockumentary will seem anything but derivative and decidedly unfunny; that's certainly the case here. Ellie Kanner's Authors Anonymous is so bad that you should only watch it if you experience extreme schadenfreude at seeing once-bankable actors like Polo and Klein in a bottom-rung film ... or for the more charitable reason of paying tribute to the late, great character actor Farina, in his penultimate film. (Actually, that's no reason at all, because you're better off streaming Get Shorty or binge-watching Farina's 46 episodes on Law & Order than sitting through this drivel.)

That said, Farina's military-loving author (who refers to himself in the third person at all times) is perhaps the only character who comes close to making viewers laugh, usually when he's interacting with his German beauty of a girlfriend, Sigrid (Tricia Helfer). A screenwriter who's going to make fun of publishing should at least be funny, which this script is definitely not. There's a lot of physical humor and hamming it up for the camera, but all of it is overdone and forgettable. Audiences aren't going to laugh so much as cringe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Authors Anonymous' mockumentary style. It's more common in TV shows than in films -- why do you think that is? Does this one make good use of the style?

  • What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say about the publishing world with Hannah's rise to fame? Do you think there are real-life authors with such little knowledge of literature?

  • What are some other movies about books and writing? How do they compare to this one?

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