Chapter 27

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Chapter 27 Movie Poster Image
Mature, slow-moving Lennon assassination drama.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Chapman is plainly delusional and angry; a photographer at the Dakota is focused on his paparazzo mission.

Violence

Throughout the film, Chapman plans to shoot Lennon: He practices in front of a mirror with his gun, describes his scheme, and finally shoots (blasts and screaming are heard). The scene is loud and distressing, but brief.

Sex

Mark listens to a gay couple in the next room at the YMCA as they make love (audible moaning and gasping). A magazine shows a woman's breasts. Chapman hires a prostitute who wears a low-cut dress, then removes it at his behest (cleavage, nude back, body silhouette visible). Chapman appears in his underpants, seated on the bed with the prostitute.

Language

A couple of background uses of "f--k" by a man on the sidewalk who also calls a woman a "bitch" and a "c--t." Other language includes "goddamned," "hell," and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Chapman drinks beer; several characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this slow-moving assassination drama deals with mature themes, including insanity, obsession, and murder. The primary violence is the shooting of John Lennon, which is shown in an impressionistic but still briefly disturbing scene. Chapman rails against a gay couple (there are audible sounds of sex off-screen) and hires a scantily dressed prostitute who gets into bed with him (nothing explicit, just creepy). Language includes "f--k" and "c--t" (both spoken by a background character), and other mild obscenities. Characters smoke cigarettes, and Chapman drinks beer.

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What's the story?

In CHAPTER 27, Mark David Chapman is played by Jared Leto (beneath 60 extra pounds of serious-actor weight). He still hates celebrities and "phonies," and he still kills John Lennon. Much like The Killing of John Lennon, J.P. Schaefer's movie takes its cues from Chapman's own thoughts -- in this case, his interviews with crime journalist Jack Jones (published in 1992), which focus on his three days in New York City in 1980. Chapman stands outside the Dakota, meets a fellow "fan" -- the astoundingly named Jude (Lindsay Lohan) -- and reads The Catcher in the Rye. Oh, and he kills Lennon.

Is it any good?

The film seems stuck in first gear, grinding through obvious points. Yes, Chapman is troubled by his inability to match masculine ideals (he hires a prostitute for his last night, telling her, "I'm not a weirdo, I wanted to be in the company of a woman tonight"), communicate with his wife (he calls her in Hawaii to ensure she's read Catcher), or make friends (Jude eventually scurries away, worried by Chapman's decidedly strange behavior). Though he makes sure to leave behind an assortment of items by which the police might "know what he's become," the film's unsurprising punchline is that Chapman himself cannot know. Imagining he should be "remembered," he succumbs to the force of celebrity after all.

Confused and profoundly vulnerable, here Chapman is also calculating and judgmental, determined to forge order out of his own emotional chaos. His resolve inspired by a fictional character (Catcher's Holden Caulfield), Chapman's insanity is plain but banal. The film doesn't pretend to interpret him, though it occasionally suggests that he represents a broader angst and turmoil, a desire to stop the ongoing onslaught of all-consuming consumer culture. As Chapman appears both idealistic and out of touch, he seems a neat emblem of hope and hopelessness. "I believe in Holden Caulfield," he announces. "And the book. And what it was saying, what it was saying to a lost generation of phony people."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how media attention to the assassination of public figures is appealing to some killers, who desire fame. Can you think of other potentially negative consequences of media news coverage? How about positive ones? Families can also discuss the lingering interest in John Lennon and his murder. How is the act symbolic beyond its time and place? What are the various prices of celebrity culture, both for celebrities and for consumers, who might lose track of their own lives in pursuing information about their idols?

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