A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Capone is a fact-based drama about the final year of Al Capone's life, when the notorious gangster (Tom Hardy) was suffering from severe dementia because of advanced-stage syphilis. Although the movie is set after Capone's deadliest years as a crime boss, it still has lots of bloody, violent scenes, including moments of torture, murder, and even mass "killing spree" executions, as well as fighting between a married couple. The language is incredibly strong and frequent, with four-letter words in basically every scene: "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "f--king," and more. A partially clothed sex scene (loud noises, thrusting) is interrupted by a phone call, and there's another scene of implied sex. Characters drink and smoke frequently (especially cigars, but also cigarettes). It's directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle, The Fantastic Four).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
CAPONE follows the final year of infamous gangster Al Capone's life, during his mental and physical decline from advanced syphilis. Seven years after being released from prison, Alphonse Capone (Tom Hardy) -- who's called Fonz by his close family and friends (the movie was originally titled Fonzo) -- is cared for by his wife, Mae (Linda Cardellini), and a revolving door of gangland security while living at his Miami Beach mansion. Fonz grows less and less lucid, having vivid delusions that layer past violent crimes on top of his present-day life. He lashes out at Mae, his brother, and others and reveals to a mysterious associate (Matt Dillon) that he can't remember where he may (or may not) have hidden $10 million: the lost treasure that remains legendary.
Is it any good?
Hardy's commitment to director Josh Trank's uneven, trippy character study is both laudable and laughable: He offers a slurring, grunting, drooling depiction of the gangster during his final year. Trank, whose clever 2012 debut Chronicle was followed by the notoriously disappointing The Fantastic Four, isn't reclaiming any cred with this ambitious but unsatisfying biopic about the notorious crime boss's descent into madness and decay. The body horror here is real: Hardy's make-up team deserves a shout-out for making his skin authentically look like it's not only swollen and scarred but also suffering from the symptoms of advanced disease. Toward the end of the film, Capone looks like he's contracting Greyscale (from Game of Thrones) or turning into Gollum; the movie could be used as a PSA for serious STDs. Hardy, to his credit, rolls with it all, managing to project an aura of violence even when Capone is losing control of his bowels (twice).
Cardellini is noteworthy as Capone's long-suffering, devoted wife, Mae, and Kyle MacLachlan is good as Capone's personal physician. Dillon is a welcome source of humor as a fellow gangster (his line about what happens when you spend too much time in Florida is the screenplay's funniest moment). But audiences may also end up laughing at unintentionally funny times, like the over-the-top scenes in which Capone, wearing an adult diaper and smoking a carrot instead of a cigar, is walking around unhinged. At least it can't be said that this is a glamorization of Capone's mob-boss life. It's unclear, however, what the point of Trank's film really is, and it's too slow and unsettling to remember for anything but Hardy's outsized performance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss the ways that Capone departs from typical gangster movies. What's different about this one? What did you learn about Al Capone's life?
Why do you think gangster-related movies and TV shows are still popular? What makes criminals fascinating to audiences?
How accurate do you think the movie is to what actually happened? Why might filmmakers choose to alter the facts in a movie based on real events?
Talk about the storied history of Capone's missing loot. What do you know about it? Does the movie make you curious about the rumors?
- On DVD or streaming: July 21, 2020
- Cast: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon
- Director: Josh Trank
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong/bloody violence, pervasive language and some sexuality
- Last updated: July 20, 2020
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