A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (an unofficial remake of 1992's Bad Lieutenant), is far too dark and depraved for kids, even most teens. It centers on a post-Katrina New Orleans police lieutenant/junkie (Nicolas Cage) who curses, steals, issues bribes, gambles, threatens people, associates with thugs, has sex with multiple partners, engages in needless violence, dates a prostitute, and is generally an out and out lowlife. It can all be traced to an injury he sustained while rescuing a drowning prisoner during the hurricane, but the movie suggests that he was a scoundrel even before then. The film does offer a hint of redemption, though what kind and how effective it will be is pretty ambiguous.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
During Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans cop Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) grudgingly rescues a soon-to-be-drowned prisoner. The act promotes him to lieutenant but also injures his back. Enduring constant pain, he becomes addicted to painkillers and other drugs and begins behaving very badly (though he was really no prize before). While on the trail of a murderer, he bribes and threatens people, visits his prostitute girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes), steals drugs from the evidence room, upsets some gangsters, loses a bet with a local bookie, blackmails a football player, and forms an alliance with a local thug -- all while trying to deal with his alcoholic father and stepmother. Will Terence learn a lesson here, or is he too far gone?
Is it any good?
BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS will appeal to fans who know the work of German-born maverick director Werner Herzog. And indeed, the new film has much in common with some of Herzog's crazed past masterworks like Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). The drawback is that fans of equally crazed maverick filmmaker Abel Ferrara will compare it to the original 1992 film Bad Lieutenant and find the new one lacking (though the two films really have very little in common).
Ultimately, enjoyment of the new movie will rest on viewers' willingness to succumb to intense, loony, personal filmmaking as well as extreme subject matter with lots of drugs, swearing, violence, and sex). Those who do may find themselves laughing at the same time that their jaws drop to the floor at the movie's sheer audacity and envelope pushing. But those who don't may find the movie pointless or even offensive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the violence in this movie compares to others they've seen. Does it have more or less impact than bloodier films? Why?
How does the movie portray addiction? What are the real-life consequences of drinking and taking drugs?
Discuss the initial act of bravery that got McDonagh into this mess. Do you think he'd have done it again if he had known what would happen? Does this act mean that there's a tiny glimmer of goodness in him?
Despite all his bad behavior, McDonagh really seems to love his girlfriend and goes out of his way to protect her. Does this mean that, aside from his numerous other faults, he has a hint of selflessness?
- In theaters: November 20, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: April 6, 2010
- Cast: Eva Mendes, Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer
- Director: Werner Herzog
- Studio: First Look Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: drug use and language throughout, some violence and sexuality
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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