A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has a great deal of violence with characters, including a terrified young woman, in frequent peril. They use strong language, and there's some drug humor. Hayes says that if his girlfriend is pregnant, he will marry her, but if she's not, he's not in a hurry. Hayes has the opportunity to have sex with a gorgeous woman. He jokes about it, but remains faithful to his girlfriend. Rock's mugging is occasionally uncomfortably reminiscent of the racist stereotypes perpetuated by early movie stars like Step'n Fetchit.
What's the story?
In BAD COMPANY, Chris Rock plays Jake Hayes, a streetwise hustler who finds out that not only did he have an identical twin brother who was adopted while he was shuttled to foster homes, but that his brother was a brilliant, sophisticated spy, and that he was killed just as a crucial future-of-the-world-depends-in-it deal was about to be concluded. His brother's partner, Gaylord Oakes (Anthony Hopkins), a spy so cool that he chews gum while he shoots people, recruits Hayes to take his brother's place. Oakes has nine days to train Hayes and is instructed by his supervisor not to tell him that he may be killed.
Is it any good?
This generic summer popcorn movie would be instantly forgettable if not for the sour aftertaste left by its climax, with a nuclear bomb set to explode in New York City's Grand Central Station. We are just not ready for a scene like that, and it would not be so bad if we never were again.
Rock is not an actor. He can barely get through the part of Hayes, which is written around his strengths, and his brief attempt to play the spy brother is painful to watch. Every so often, the script lets him go into one of his stand-up rants and his charm and wit come alive. Hopkins, of course, is a magnificent actor, and he does his best to create a real character out of the cardboard script.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that this film, which includes a plot to set off a nuclear bomb in NYC, was released in 2002, a year after 9/11. Do you think the timing was just a case of the film already being in production and too late to modify, or do you think filmmakers might have wanted to try to capitalize on the national attention to terror plots? What responsibilities do you think filmmakers have when it comes to creating films with stories similar to real-life tragic events?
- In theaters: June 7, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: November 12, 2002
- Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Rock, Kerry Washington
- Director: Joel Schumacher
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violent action, some sensuality and language.
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