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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
"The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry" seems to the best way to describe the movie's message, such that it is, and it's not very hopeful. The main character upsets his stripped-down, carefully planned life and opens his heart just a bit but finds that it results in nothing but pain and violence.
Positive Role Models
The main character leads a life of crime, and his only good deed involves more crime. He also falls in love with a married woman, and all of his actions result in violence.
Violence & Scariness
This movie starts off slowly and quietly, but soon there are astonishing amounts of bloody, gory, shocking violence. A woman's head is blown off with a shotgun. The main character beats up a man and stomps on his head until it squashes like a pumpkin. He slaps and threatens a woman. He also threatens a man with a claw hammer and a bullet. Also slicing and stabbing, shooting, murders, and characters beaten up and bloodied. A small boy isn't exactly shown to be in danger, but in one scene, he displays a bullet that some bad guys have given him as a warning.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two or three topless women are on view for a long time during a nightclub scene. The main characters kiss, even though the woman is already married. Some minor flirting and/or innuendo.
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The main character doesn't swear, but other characters do frequently, using words like "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "hell," and more. Characters also use the middle finger gesture and racial slurs like "chink" and "kike."
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Products & Purchases
Some products appear or are mentioned as background. A Coca-Cola sign is shown more than once in a pizza parlor. A scene takes place at a Denny's restaurant, and the name of the character's car, a Chevy Impala, is mentioned several times over a police scanner.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character doesn't drink or smoke, but supporting characters are occasionally seen smoking cigarettes or drinking socially. One key character mentions several types of drugs -- offering them to the main character -- but they're never shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this superbly made crime drama (which won the prestigious Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival) starts off quietly but eventually contains shocking amounts of violence, including a woman's head getting blown apart by a shotgun blast and the main character stomping a man's head until it squashes like a pumpkin. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y." Several women are topless in one long scene, and the two main characters have a romantic relationship even though she's already married. The main character is a criminal without many redeeming qualities, but he's still fascinating. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Danish-born director Nicolas Winding Refn isn't exactly a household name, but he might be after DRIVE; he might also elicit comparisons to Quentin Tarantino, which would be entirely deserved. Drive is steeped in movies, especially moody 1980s films by Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, and William Friedkin, as well as any genre films about stoic, secretive heroes -- but at the same time it feels like something new. Its style prevails over its substance, but what style!
But that's not meant to disparage the film's substance; clearly Refn adores actors, and he finds many tiny moments of warmth, adoration, and humor within the film's steely surface. In one impeccably framed scene, the driver and the girl merely smile at one another, hinting at untold depths. Every actor delivers his or her best work, especially the colorful villains and sidekicks. Only the movie's extreme, shocking violence could get in the way of total adoration for this sublime piece of genre work.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.