Talky play-based film examines parental woes; some swearing.
  • Review Date: December 16, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In some ways, the film is sort of depressing, with the couples airing their dirty laundry and parenting woes. But there is a cautionary message about the dangers of parents channeling their own issues through their children's lives.

Positive role models

At times, all of the characters are insufferable and disingenuous, but they're also all quite human and are trying to make their way. They're ostensibly meeting out of concern for their kids, and you get the feeling that that's definitely true, though other agendas, known and unknown, rear their heads.


Some yelling among the four main characters and frank discussions about bullying. One couple's child hit the other's with a tree branch, injuring him, but the incident isn't shown.

Not applicable

Relatively infrequent swearing, but words include "f--k," "bitch," "damn," and more.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The two couples progressively get plastered during the afternoon they spend discussing their sons' quarrel.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Jodie Foster/Kate Winslet dramedy based on the play God of Carnage and directed by controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski starts with a simple enough premise: Two couples get together to discuss why one pair's child hit another at the playground. But the movie is actually an intense examination of how the couples' "civil" conversation gets derailed and becomes a squabble. The subject matter and tone aren't likely to interest tweens or younger teens (though there's definitely loads to think about), but older teens might actually find it an interesting film to dissect with their parents, as it looks at issues of personal responsibility, parenting styles, and the like. The main iffy content is swearing (including "f--k") and drinking (the couples get pretty drunk as the afternoon wears on).

What's the story?

Husband and wife Michael (John C. Reilly) and Penelope (Jodie Foster) have invited over another couple, Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy (Kate Winslet), to discuss a most unfortunate incident: Alan and Nancy's son hit Michael and Penelope's son with a stick at a Brooklyn playground, injuring him. At first it everything seems to go well; everyone's civil and on their best behavior. But soon the meeting devolves into an airing of recriminations and regrets -- not just about what happened, but of marriage, parenting, and life in general.

Is it any good?


You can imagine that CARNAGE, in its original, Tony-winning stage version, would be thrilling to watch -- so quick is the patter, so witty the banter, so sharp the material. And all that's definitely still here. The film is incisive, breathtakingly well-acted (Foster is at her brittle, earnest best), and uproarious in many parts.

But well within the first half-hour, it feels limited by its setting: a living room in Brooklyn. It's so clearly a play that you can't help but be distracted by the staginess. Viewers who didn't know it was a play first will probably be particularly perplexed about why we're stuck in this one apartment; the only reprieve (and it truly feels like one) is when the couples briefly go out into the hallway. The dialogue is also sometimes a giveaway; it's expository, and everyone talks a lot. Still, at least we get to see four fine actors do what they do best, and that may be Carnage's biggest offering.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays parenting. Are the characters good parents? How do they compare to other parents you've seen in the movies/on TV?

  • Are either or both sets of parents hovering too much over their kids? Or are they the opposite? Is either style better than the other?

  • Can you tell that this movie was based on a play? Do plays generally translate well to the big screen? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 16, 2011
DVD release date:March 20, 2012
Cast:Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet
Director:Roman Polanski
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Carnage was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byfilmfreak49 May 30, 2013

really enjoyable and very funny comedy. Concentration needed.

This movie is just great. I absolutely loved this movie, this movie is really funny and fun to watch. Patience and concentration is needed therefore I give it a 14 and up. Most 14 year olds will understand this movie but the thing is, they probably wont be interested or that openminded to the things that happen or the topics discussed. I being a 14 year old am very open-minded and watch a lot of movies that most teens wouldn't be interested in such as hope springs or black swan, therefore I could really involve and enjoy myself during this movie. It probably would not be a good pick for family movie night but a great time with mature and open-minded teens or a adult movie night. The swearing is mild for a R rated film and starts halfway into the film and then only occasionally. One or two sex references, but they are so quick and harmless that no one will really care.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent Written byImjustsaying December 28, 2013

Great movie about yuppy parents with a twist at the end.

Great fun movie about two couples who come together to discuss their children's fight. But they end up discussing other things and it's fun and games for us the viewers. Christof and Jodie are top notch.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing


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