A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has comic violence (no one badly hurt), including shooting and scuffles. Characters lie, cheat, steal, smoke, drink, and use bad language. There are comic sexual situations (including a foot fetishist) and brief non-sexual nudity. The scenes involving airport security and a bomb on a plane, the reason the movie's release was delayed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, may cause more twinges than laughter. The movie is at the upper end of the PG-13 rating, closer to an R.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
In BIG TROUBLE, Tim Allen plays Eliot Arnold, a once-successful columnist reduced to writing ad copy after an altercation with his boss. He is held in contempt by his teen son Matt (Ben Foster), who is on a quest to "kill" pretty classmate Jenny (Zooey Deschanel) by squirting her with a water gun in a tag-like game. Meanwhile, Jenny's stepfather Arthur (Stanley Tucci) is the target of a less benign hitman for stealing money from some bad guys. A couple of cops (Jeaneanne Garofolo and Patrick Warburton), a Frito-loving, tree-sitting, strong but sweet guy with a Jesus hairdo (Jason Lee), a couple of Russians who deal weapons, a nuclear device that looks like a garbage disposal, a remarkable number of televisions with their screens shot out, and a herd of goats all manage to play a part before things get resolved.
Is it any good?
If not quite as sharp as it could be, "Big Trouble" is still a sharp, funny movie. Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Berry, it has a terrific cast getting caught up in delicious comic chaos seasoned with a couple of howlingly funny wisecracks.
The translation of book to screen is uneven, primarily because the story is all situation and no character. Even with exceptionally strong personalities in the roles and a director with a refreshing combination of a laid-back tone and a brisk pace, the film still asks too much of the audience by wanting us to care about characters we hardly know.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between Matt and Eliot and between Jenny and her mother and step-father. They should also talk about the decision faced by the film-makers following September 11. Should they have changed the story, in addition to delaying the release?
- In theaters: April 5, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: October 8, 2002
- Cast: Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Tim Allen
- Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual references, and violence
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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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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