Noir movie exposes gambling world; sex, violence, cursing.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Croupier is a dark, adult-themed drama about casino workers, many of whom succumb to gambling habits or collude with players to steal from the casino. A cynical writer seeking to expose the gambling world holds himself above the gamblers he serves until he accepts an offer to help thieves rob the casino. Questionable morals and self delusion are dual themes that may prompt interesting discussions about cheating, integrity, and self esteem with older teens. A man and woman have sex in a public bathroom stall. A woman walks around naked. Brief glimpse of breasts in a locker room. Adults smoke marijuana and cigarettes, and drink alcohol. Language includes "f--k" and "s--t."
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What's the Story?
Jack (Clive Owen) is a bit of a hypocrite, a casino card dealer who loves to see people lose but who never gambles himself, at least not in a conventional way. In CROUPIER, he takes plenty of risks as he cheats on his girlfriend, has sex with a female croupier despite management's strict anti-fraternization rules, and despises cheaters but needlessly becomes one himself. His father's gambling problem drove Jack's mother away, and his dad (Nicholas Ball) still lies, cheats, and pulls scams out of his hat. Jack, a struggling writer, arrogantly sees himself as his cheating father's opposite, but by movie's end Jack seems less self congratulatory and more self loathing as begins to resemble his father more. When an attractive repeat "punter" (gambler customer) named Jani (Alex Kingston) bumps into him away from the tables, she persuades him that she's deep in debt to some violent characters who will only let her go if she helps them rob Jack's casino. For $10,000, all he need do is call out a cheater planted at his table, a supposed distraction that will allow the robbery. True to his principles, he says no, then rationalizes. He needs the money, and he wouldn't be cheating; others would. Will he get away with it?
Is It Any Good?
Director Mike Hodges (Get Carter) steers this project about an arrogant anti-hero operating in an ugly environment so steadily that we root for the smug guy even as he betrays his own code. Croupier launched the international movie career of the smoldering Clive Owens (Closer, Children of Men, Inside Man). Tense and contained, he uses his quiet voice and calm demeanor to hide roiling emotions and deep intelligence beneath the surface. Although many plot points may not bear logical scrutiny, the overarching cynicism tell us the whole story. Jack presents himself as an unflappable and experienced veteran, but it turns out that knowledge doesn't offer as much protection from scams as he expected. Jack expects his superior understanding of casino policies to protect him from scheming swindlers, and the movie proves there's no protection.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about some of Jack's personality flaws that make him vulnerable to cons. How does Jack's experience and knowledge mislead him about his exposure to scams?
Is Jack a likable main character? Why or why not?
What does the movie say about cheating? Is it ever OK to cheat?
- In theaters: July 28, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2001
- Cast: Clive Owens, Nick Reding, Nicholas Ball
- Director: Mike Hodges
- Studio: Image Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 1, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Smart heist movie is not for children.
Searing story of betrayal isn't for kids.
Children of Men
Gripping, violent look at the future. Adults only.
For kids who love dramas
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