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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 this film contains scenes of bloody violence and gunplay. Aside from "purely" criminal acts, there are depictions of physical abuse within families and a racially motivated attack. The characters use strong language throughout the film, smoke, drink, and deal drugs. One suffers an overdose off-screen.
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What's the story?
DONNIE BRASCO is based on the true story of Joe Pistone (Johhny Depp), the first FBI agent to successfully infiltrate the inner circle of the Mafia. Pistone (code-named Donnie Brasco), poses as a small-time jewel thief who befriends low-level mobster "Lefty" Ruggeriero (Al Pacino). Broke, over the hill, and desperately eager to please, Lefty struggles daily to score enough cash to satisfy the made men at the top. Lefty quickly takes Donnie under his wing, coaching him on wiseguy rhetoric and deportment. Donnie, meanwhile, is very busy with his double life. Driven as an agent, and ambitious as a hoodlum, he barely has energy left for his wife and two kids. His superiors at the FBI appear unsympathetic as well. Pistone's life becomes even more complicated when events unexpectedly pull Lefty (and therefore Donnie) up the power structure.
Is it any good?
Donnie Brasco is a fine film, a supposedly true story that covers many of the usual mafia movie bases -- family, loyalty, trust and betrayal. The film proves note-worthy, however, by providing the audience with an in-depth view of characters who are typically portrayed as one-dimensional corrupt law enforcers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Donnie's divided loyalty. Ostensibly, it is between the mob and the FBI, but is it that simple? Who else is he answerable to, and in the end, which group does he really side with? Have you ever been in a situation where your loyalty to a friend has been tested, particularly when a friend has done something very wrong?
- In theaters: February 28, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: January 20, 1998
- Cast: Al Pacino, Anne Heche, Johnny Depp
- Director: Mike Newell
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some strong graphic violence, pervasive strong language and brief nudity and sexuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.