By Cynthia Fuchs,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Predictable mob movie is too violent for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film takes a nostalgic angle on memories of the New York mafia in the mid-'80s. The protagonist (who's the film's least pathological character) cheats in school, sees beatings and murders, drinks heavily, breaks an adversary's nose, and pursues a rival in order to execute him. Gangster characters are typically violent, greedy, and, in their own way, loyal.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent beatings and fights (punching, furniture throwing, kicking), with bloody injuries, broken noses, and cut faces; boys find a body with bloody holes in its head; a Vietnam war veteran shows the souvenir ear on his neck; a crew of thugs beats a man, then cuts off his ear in a meat-slicing machine (off screen, with much screaming, moaning, and blood splattering); shootings/executions leave a couple of protagonists with bloody holes in their chests; villain is beaten and shot.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Repeated sexual slang (references to "broads," "chicks," "c--ks," "p---y," "blow job"); oral sex in a car; romantic kissing; sex between romantic couple is implied, with a post-sex scene showing her bare shoulders as she lies on top of him.
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Tons of profanity, including more than 100 "f--k"s (several with "mother"), as well as multiple uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," and "c--ksucker," plus other language ("jerk-off," "douchebag," "scumbag"), derogatory words ("queer"), and racist terms ("gook").
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Products & Purchases
Marlboro cigarettes, reference to Häagen-Dazs, and many time-setting pop cultural references, including Keith Partridge, Fred MacMurray, My Three Sons, Brigadoon, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Back to the Future, Psychology Today, Tom Brokaw, Pac-Man, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and Wheel of Fortune.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent cigarette smoking, especially by Carmine and Cesar; drinking and drunkenness at parties and in bars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this violent mobster movie isn't meant for kids, despite the fact that it stars Scooby-Doo's Freddie Prinze, Jr. Foul language is non-stop (mostly "f--k," with other swear words and derogatory/racist terms like "queer" and "gook" thrown in for good measure), and frequent mafia violence includes beatings, stabbings, bloody shootings, and more. In an especially brutal scene, a gangster cuts off another man's ear with a meat-slicer as the protagonist watches (and gets splattered with blood in the process). Characters drink, smoke (a lot), cheat, steal, and gamble; sexual content isn't too bad for an R-rating, but there's a non-explicit oral sex scene and two amorous encounters in cars.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
BROOKLYN RULES begins with three boys in Catholic school uniforms who witness a brutal beating and discover a body in a car. The boys don't worry much about the murder, instead selecting various character-defining items to take home from the scene (cigarettes and a lighter, a puppy, a gun). Cut ahead a few years to the same boys in 1985 -- vain Carmine (Scott Caan) is still smoking, Bobby (Entourage's Jerry Ferrara) still loves his dog, and narrator Michael (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has stowed the gun away in a drawer while attending Columbia University (he has plans for law school). Although the three friends follow different paths by day, at night they hang out together, gambling at the neighborhood temple and pursuing "broads" and one-night stands at the club. In the end, a wholly unclimactic climax leads to a mostly off-screen resolution.
Is It Any Good?
Nostalgic mafia sagas are familiar stories by now, and Brooklyn Rules doesn't break any new ground. Shot in 2004, director Michael Corrente's movie is heavy on local accents and bloody noses, but light on complexity and creativity. A couple of crises force Michael to face some consequences and, apparently, engage in gangster movie clichés -- including the Showdown in the Men's Room, the Poignant Final Prayer, and the Overhead Shots of Bloody Bodies. Michael understands that the "wiseguy" life isn't for him, but still the movie makes him consider it, with archival TV footage of John Gotti and Paul Castellano establishing cursory historical context.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Hollywood portrays mobsters. Does the media glamorize or romanticize the mafia? How and why? Do you think real mob life is as consistently violent as it's presented on screen? What makes these characters and their lifestyle so appealing? Is there anything admirable about them? How do the boys in the movie find moral role models in gangsters, even if they know they are, in Michael's words, "horrible" men?
- In theaters: May 17, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: September 18, 2007
- Cast: Alec Baldwin, Freddie Prinze Jr., Scott Caan
- Director: Michael Corrente
- Inclusion Information: Latinx actors
- Studio: City Lights Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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