Finding Amanda

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Finding Amanda Movie Poster Image
Mature, uneven prostitution dramedy loses its way.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A young prostitute appears untroubled by her profession, except when a client insults her to her face. Even then, she appears to recover quickly; in the end, there doesn't seem to have been much of a change in her thinking, except perhaps about relationships. A man constantly lies to his wife and to himself about his addictions and appears to have little remorse about it, except for when he seems on the verge of losing everything. Men hurt women both physically and emotionally; women deceive and accept all forms of abuse; people take drugs, drink too much, and gamble away their lives. Some of this is played for comedy (laughing yet?).

Violence

A woman attacks a man after he spits on her face and insults her; a man threatens the lead character after he's caught cheating; a pimp bloodies a man's nose and later breaks his by smashing a Dumpster lid on it. A man roughs up his girlfriend. A father allows his two young sons to play with guns; the only admonition is to aim below the waist.

Sex

Bare breasts in a strip club. Some sex acts are implied, as when a woman is shown performing oral sex on a man (no genitals shown) while people casually hang out and conduct a drug deal. A lead character is a prostitute and talks candidly about what she does "at work." Pretty explicit descriptions of sex acts and references to body parts, as well as to infidelity.

Language

Everything you can think of, all used early and often: "crap," "s--t," "f--k," "c--t," "dick," and more -- sometimes in front of children.

Consumerism

Vegas signage; constant mention of Taylor's TV sitcom.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A lead character relapses into previous drinking and drugging ways (Ecstasy is identified, as well as weed); dealers sell their wares; Vegas casinos ply visitors with drinks so they'll gamble more, and visitors are happy to imbibe, even if some of them are supposed to be on the wagon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that teens probably won't be clamoring to see this mature dramedy. Which is just as well, since it attempts to put a light sheen on serious topics like prostitution but ultimately comes across as somewhat dismissive. There's a fair amount of swearing -- within the first 15 minutes alone, a panoply of cuss words (including "f--k") lets fly -- and a whole host of vices, from gambling to drinking and drug use. There's also some partial nudity (breasts) and implied sex. And even though he's lying through his teeth almost every time he opens his mouth, the lead character doesn't seem to feel much remorse about it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove April 6, 2013

Average flick - not for kids!

I thought this movie was okay, I watched it for Brittany Snow who did an excellent job in the film. Amanda (Brittany) appears as a happy-go-lucky but troubled n... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Hollywood scribe Taylor (Matthew Broderick) works for a TV show he can't stand and has a gambling problem he can't shake. His wife Lorraine's (Maura Tierney) patience is wearing thin, so he comes up with a stunt to curry favor: He'll head to Vegas to look for their niece, perky, sunny Amanda (Brittany Snow) -- who's been dabbling with prostitution while using drugs -- and talk her into giving rehab a try. But as it turns out, finding Amanda isn't the tough part, as Taylor's trip pushes him deeper into his own vices.

Is it any good?

FINDING AMANDA, which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, tries to straddle two worlds -- comedy and tragedy -- but it doesn't succeed at either. Dismissive when it shouldn't be and treacly when sweetness isn't called for, it winds up tonally confusing at best. One minute, Amanda is blasé about her chosen profession -- she offhandedly propositions potential "clients" while chit-chatting with her uncle and talks about sexual acts she's performed as if talking about a manicure (a conceit already mined far more successfully in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite) -- and the next she's sobbing on the floor with shame.

Perhaps that's meant to show the ambivalence that Amanda truly feels about her situation -- which would be understandable -- but it just doesn't fly. And though it's somewhat amusing to watch Taylor lie, even to himself, about his burgeoning addictions, the humor quickly dissipates when Lorraine (played with nuance by Tierney) is increasingly pained by his mounting untruths. It's always a pleasure to watch Broderick negotiate angsty figures, but he deserves more cohesive material. Director Peter Tolan's made an admirable effort to tell a complicated story, but he just didn't find the perfect mix, never mind Amanda.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media usually portrays prostitution. Do you think these depictions are realistic? Why would filmmakers want to glamorize (or even just soften) "the world's oldest profession"? Also, is it OK to mine topics like addiction and lying for laughs? Why or why not? And why do you think Taylor volunteered to go to Vegas when he's a gambling addict (and an alcoholic to boot)? Was it all a lie, or did he have every intention of helping out?

Movie details

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