Frank and Penelope
Brutal, violent, dispiriting "lovers on the run" movie.
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Frank and Penelope
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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 Frank and Penelope is an action-thriller romance about a jilted man (Billy Budinich) who falls in love with a stripper (Caylee Cowan) and winds up in a world of violence and evil. The movie is too brutal and dispiriting to be romantic, and as much as we want to like the characters, there's too little hope. It's very violent: Expect to see guns and shooting, dead bodies, blood spatters, severed limbs, flesh-eating, men roughing up women, strangling, someone hanging by a rope, stabbing (in the eye), lots of punching, and more. Characters have graphic sex, with thrusting, moaning, and partial nudity (bottoms, breast). Other characters have more discreet sex, and there's also kissing, seduction, sex-related dialogue, pole dancing, lap dancing, and more. A man touches a woman's unconscious body; in another scene, she seduces him to get out of a predicament. Strong language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--t," "p---y," and much more. There's brief cocaine use, and characters are served drugged drinks.
New cult classic
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What's the Story?
In FRANK AND PENELOPE, mild-mannered Frank (Billy Budinich) arrives home to surprise his wife and finds her with another man. He leaves and ends up at a strip club, where Penelope (Caylee Cowan) gives him a dance. He feels a strong, instant connection and asks her to run away with him. She agrees, leaving her boss (Sean Patrick Flanery) in a vengeance-seeking mood. Frank trades in his Prius for a classic Dodge Super Bee, and they hit the road. They roll into the town of Quicksilver and check into a motel for the night, where proprietor Cleve (Brian Maillard) invites them for free drinks at the Table of Truth. There they meet Chisos (Johnathon Schaech), a charismatic but sinister figure. Before long, Frank and Penelope are prisoners, destined to be sacrificed for the purposes of an evil cult. Can they escape and find freedom together?
Is It Any Good?
As much as viewers might want to root for the central couple to find true love, the world they occupy is so callous and brutal that hope soon fades, and a feeling of disgust creeps in. In debt to many 1990s movies, especially the Quentin Tarantino-written True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawn, Frank and Penelope doesn't display any semblance of reason or awareness of the time we live in now. Violence is swift and without repercussions, and women are objects of lust. Penelope is a cookie-cutter version of Patricia Arquette's "Alabama" from True Romance, and while it's fun to hear her dialogue delivered in her soft Southern accent, her value system is, problematically, based on how much "rage" a man expresses over her.
Frank makes a super-fast 180-degree turn from being a cautious doormat to becoming an Elvis-type rebel (or perhaps Nicolas Cage's "Sailor" from Wild at Heart), and he, likewise, takes to violence pretty fast. The idea of ordinary folks rolling into an ordinary-looking rest stop where evil lurks is nothing new (see From Dusk Till Dawn). But the villains are especially nasty, and they even seem nasty to each other, constantly scowling and arguing. They're members of a religious cult who preach certain values, but they flagrantly violate those values. They're so cartoony that they barely pose a threat. In True Romance, we believed that Alabama and Clarence would be happy forever, but in the dystopia of Frank and Penelope, it's hard to feel anything at all.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Frank and Penelope's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
How much of the movie's violence is directed toward women? How did that make you feel? Why do different types of violence have different impacts on people?
Are women objectified in this story? Do any women characters have agency? Why is that important?
How is sex portrayed? Is it about love? Trust? Power?
Chisos says that the thing he detests most of all is hypocrisy. What is hypocrisy? What are some examples of it in the story?
- In theaters: June 3, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: July 12, 2022
- Cast: Caylee Cowan, Billy Budinich, Johnathon Schaech
- Director: Sean Patrick Flanery
- Studio: Redbud Studios
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violent content, sexual content, brief nudity, language throughout, sexual assault and some drug use
- Last updated: March 6, 2023
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