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 dark horror/thriller isn't for kids. The plot focuses on a home invasion, and while most of the actual violence occurs off-screen, the results are very visible (bloody wounds; tearful, frightened faces; dead bodies; blood splattered on walls and furniture). Tense scenes include threats of violence, pursuit of a victim through dark hallways, and sexual taunting (which culminates in a woman being forced to strip, though no nudity is shown). A scene in which a woman appears in her bra and panties is decidedly un-erotic. Some language, including several uses of "f--k."
What's the story?
Grim and relentless, FUNNY GAMES follows a day-long home invasion. When Ann (Naomi Watts) allows a young man in tennis whites and gloves into her lakefront vacation home, she can't begin to anticipate the devastating consequences. It's not long before Peter (Brady Corbet) and his similarly dressed companion, Paul (Michael Pitt), have intimidated Ann, broken her husband George's (Tim Roth) leg with a golf club, and terrorized their 10-year-old son Georgie (Devon Gearhart). The family alternately begs for their lives, resists their attackers, and tries desperately to escape, but the young men remain disturbingly unmoved and incapable of telling any kind of truth.
Is it any good?
A scene-for-scene remake of director Michael Haneke's own, same-named 1997 Austrian film, Funny Games has more on its mind than startling displays of blood and terror. In fact, the violent acts themselves occur off-screen -- though the very nasty effects are underscored in long, often immobile takes. Ann, George, and Georgie repeatedly appear in tears, their faces bruised and fearful, while their tormentors taunt them with stories of damaged childhoods and twisted intentions (Paul demands that they make a bet with him, that "in 12 hours all three of you are gonna be kaput"). Scene after scene shows the debilitating effects of such emotional and physical stress, as the day wears into night and no good end appears possible.
When George asks why they don't just kill the family now, Paul smiles wanly: "You should not forget the importance of entertainment." Indeed, this is the film's focus. On one level, it makes viewers pay for its implied violence (rather than indulging in the dubious pleasures of "torture porn" like Saw). On another level, the film presses its point harder. At first, Paul and Peter seem like standard movie psychos, their cherubic faces almost more chilling than their utter contempt for their victims. But then Paul begins to address the camera directly, asking what "you" might want to see. When at last he stops a scene that has gone "wrong," grabs a TV remote, rewinds it, and replays it to accommodate his own ends, the film has lurched from regular horror into meta territory. At once intellectual and difficult to see, it is, ironically, all about watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie asks viewers to consider their own participation in violence, by consuming such images. When Paul looks directly at the camera and speaks to viewers, does that draw attention to the "pleasures" of watching extreme imagery? How? Can you think of other scary/violent movies that use their graphic images to comment on violence in the media? Also, why do you think the director wanted to remake his own movie?
For kids who love thrills
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