A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that one character, a convicted rapist, threatens to rape a female guard and later attempts it. The film implies that a mass murderer killed a little girl (later, we find out he didn't). Characters graphically describe murders and rapes they have committed; many kill again, on screen and gruesomely.
What's the story?
Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) goes to prison for killing a man during a light-night brawl outside the bar where his pregnant wife works. When Poe gets paroled seven years later, his plane is hijacked by criminally insane mastermind Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and black separatist Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames). It's up to Poe to save the day.
Is it any good?
There's no moral to the story of CON AIR, and while the acting is great (Dave Chapelle plays a particularly gregarious felon), there's nothing to sink your teeth into. But that will be fine for most teens. This is typical blockbuster fare: The good guys and bad guys are clear from the beginning. Poe is a stand-up guy loyal to his good friend Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson) and the honor of guard Sally Bishop (Rachel Ticotin). The bad guys are everywhere and seem to have no end of devious plans. There are car crashes, massive explosions, pithy one-liners ("Why couldn't you put the bunny back in the box?" Poe deadpans after impaling a convict in the cargo hold), even a dead body flying onto the roof of an unsuspecting Volvo.
Con Air delivers the goods with good-natured jokes and oddly non-threatening psychopaths (Steve Bushemi plays a creepy serial killer who psychoanalyzes his fellow convicts and has a disturbing tea party with a little girl in a trailer park). But if Con Air is a typical blockbuster, then it suffers from the typical potholes of the genre. Poe supposedly goes to jail for killing a man to defend his wife's honor, and he continues the theme by protecting and saving guard Bishop. While standing up for women is admirable, it sends the wrong message to both boys and girls who watch that women need to be saved. One could argue, rather, that Poe went to jail to defend his masculinity, not his bride --- a worthy topic for families to discuss after viewing. The film also suffers from too much blood. People are tortured and killed with zeal, and no one seems to suffer a poor conscience after the murders. Only Poe seems spooked. The film makes death seem as simple as if the characters were playing a video game -- a dangerous message to send.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why movies like Con Air make murder seem so easy. Why don't any of the characters seem affected by the murders they've just committed? Families may also want to discuss why the film depicts the felons as dangerous but also loveable. Families may also want to discuss Poe's heroics. Do women need to be saved? How do men in your family show they love women? Did Poe defend his wife's honor by fighting those men, or was he really defending his masculinity?
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