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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 engaging, suspenseful political drama -- which is based on the true story of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was compromised in the press, and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- portrays the U.S. government as a formidable villain that tries to suppress the truth. Expect some strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), lots of yelling and verbal fighting, and some war footage. Characters also drink and smoke cigars. It likely won't appeal to most kids, but politically-aware teens may appreciate the movie's eye-opening look at recent U.S. history.
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What's the story?
In 2001, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is working as a covert CIA operative. Her husband, Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), is a former ambassador. After reports of a huge sale of yellow cake uranium, the CIA agrees to send Wilson to Niger to investigate. He determines that no such sale took place, but months later, the White House reports the opposite and uses this information to justify going to war in Iraq. Wilson responds by writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Unfortunately, Plame's identity comes out in a subsequent news story, thereby destroying her career. The timing couldn't be worse: She was in the middle of trying to rescue a family from Iraq. And now she and her family are receiving death threats ...
Is it any good?
Director Doug Liman takes a story about secret meetings, phone calls, and article-writing and makes it dynamic and suspenseful.This kind of political thriller can be tricky to make; the tendency is either to throw in too much politics or too many thrills (see Green Zone for an example). But Liman finds a nice balance with FAIR GAME, sticking fairly close to the real-life facts, even if he does employ a few tried-and-true Hollywood tricks for easy shortcuts.
Best of all, Liman adds a welcome, moving human level to recent history. It's heartbreaking to see Watts, as Plame, helplessly watching TV pundits casting judgment on her, and the strain on Plame and Wilson's marriage is palpable. The pair were more or less branded as traitors for a time, but here we see them as two good people who tried to do their best in the wrong place at the wrong time. The characters are angry, yes, but the movie itself keeps a cool head.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's tension and moments of violence. How did it affect you? How did the movie accomplish this?
How does this real-life story work as a movie? Do you think filmmakers changed any facts to make the movie? Why might they choose to do that?
Did Wilson do the right thing by writing the article and attempting to tell the truth? What would have happened if he had done nothing?
Would you say that Wilson and Plame are heroes or traitors? Or something in-between? Why?
For kids who love thrills and politics
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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.