A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cruel Intentions 2 is a "prequel" to Cruel Intentions, the 1999 film loosely based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the 1782 French novel about sexual manipulation among the aristocracy. An upper-crust New York prep school is the setting this time, and although there's no full-frontal nudity or graphic sex shown here, there's a distinct effort to create a soft-porn feeling. There's plenty of sexual activity among these privileged high schoolers: bare breasts, hands on breasts, women kissing women, a woman's hand on a man's crotch, a horseback riding-induced orgasm, and sexual moaning in a limo. There's talk of a threesome with a stepbrother and sister and another girl. A high school sophomore's stepmom comes on to him, and a man's mistress handcuffs him to the headboard. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." Viagra is mentioned. A boy's mother has addiction problems and is in rehab. A girl feeds another girl lots of alcohol as part of a plot to make her lose her virginity.
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What's the story?
In CRUEL INTENTIONS 2, Amy Adams plays Kathryn, a sadistic, manipulative bully leading a group of students at her exclusive Manhattan prep school to oust geeks and other undesirables. When her stepbrother, Sebastian (Robin Dunne), is sent to live in her stepfather's mansion with her and her mother, she makes it clear that she intends to make his life miserable and get him into trouble, all so she can maintain her power at school and her "cushy life" at home. While Sebastian's mother is in rehab, he's been invited to live in New York with a dad he hardly knows. He hopes to leave behind the troublemaking he was known for at his previous school and alters his transcripts and files to include invented glowing recommendations and stellar grades. He falls for Danielle (Sarah Thompson), the headmaster's seemingly virginal daughter, and in his effort to be with only her, says no to many sexual offers that come his way. Kathryn views him as a threat and plots to bring him down to her level of nastiness.
Is it any good?
Even Adams can't rescue this from tedium. Cruel Intentions 2 is terrible. While Amy Adams does her best to tear into her role as a sadistic, sex-obsessed bully, the writing by writer-director Roger Kumble is laughably bad. When her stepbrother Sebastian moves into the Manhattan mansion she shares with her mom and stepdad, she barges into his shower and warns him, "No one is going to threaten my cushy life." What teenager would ever say "cushy life"? That Adams was 25 when she played a freshman in high school and that Dunne looked every bit of his 23 years while playing a sophomore is truly the least of this movie's problems.
Note that the movie started as Manchester Prep, a TV series spin-off from the first Cruel Intentions, but apparently the network found it too sex-powered for 2001, or just too stupid. The rejiggering of the footage may explain some of its badness and the abruptness and irrelevance of its ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the exaggerated badness of the characters. Kathryn is a nasty, arrogant, manipulative bully who takes pleasure in ruining people's lives. Does Cruel Intentions 2 make you interested in her? Or does it make you dislike her?
Sebastian is trying to reform himself. How does the movie show he's trying to improve himself?
Have you seen Cruel Intentions? How does this prequel compare?
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2001
- Cast: Robin Dunne, Sarah Thompson, Keri Lynn Pratt, Amy Adams, Mimi Rodgers
- Director: Roger Kumble
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for strong sexual content involving teens, and for language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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