Parents' Guide to

Barney Thomson

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Uneven dark comedy about a barber and a serial killer.

Movie NR 2016 96 minutes
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Creating a dark comedy like this is a challenge, requiring a film to straddle the line between shock and laughter -- and Carlyle gets close. Barney Thomson the character is a bit of a sad sack: middle-aged, set to lose his job, unmarried, unmoored, and with only his mother to turn to for help (which she's not very gracious about it). Barney Thomson the movie is almost as muddled as it tries to make Thomson into a sympathetic character.

There are funny parts -- even having a serial killer who likes to send random body parts through the mail doesn't tip the film into horror -- but the main flaw is that we're not given much reason to care about what happens to Thomson. Carlyle does a fine job playing a highly uncharismatic man, and Thompson is even better as a truly frightful and unpleasant mother, but their good acting only highlights that there's not much about the characters to hold our attention. (Plus, the fact that Thompson is only two years older than her on-screen son is kind of distracting!)

Movie Details

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