A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that except for this caper comedy's frequent strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and more), there's nothing here that would demand an R rating. There are several love scenes, but they're handled with restraint -- there's no nudity and no actual activity other than kissing and embracing. The few action sequences are brief, generally mild fights (in one, a man wields a gun, and a shot is fired), and the substance use isn't at all over the top, either -- a woman smokes one cigarette, a couple of beers are consumed, and a character seems drunk in one scene and vomits in two others. That said, it's not all that likely to be a movie that's high on kids' radar anyway.
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What's the story?
Henry (Keanu Reeves), an innocent but clueless man in the wrong place at the wrong time, takes the fall for some would-be friends and goes to prison for bank robbery. When he gets out, his wife has left him for one of the criminals he protected, and Henry has no idea what he wants from life. But then he remembers the words of his prison cellmate/mentor, Max (James Caan) -- "You did the time, you may as well have done the crime" -- and is inspired: He sets out to rob the very bank he was falsely accused of holding up earlier. A romantic encounter with a fiery actress (Vera Farmiga) finds Henry doubling as the leading actor in a production of Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, as well as the instigator of the bank job, with the recently paroled Max at his side.
Is it any good?
It almost works to combine a playful romantic heist film with a satiric look at a local theater company mounting a play by Chekov. The problem is that when you're dealing with an actor of Reeves' limited range and a director who hasn't quite found the art of pacing, building tension, or guiding the performers, it's a losing battle. Farmiga's vibrantly funny, multilayered character -- she lights up the screen whenever she drops in -- stands out amidst the other players' over-the-top acting, particularly Peter Stormare and Fisher Stevens, who are buried in their own ham.
This movie is billed as a comedy, and there are a few very funny moments (provided solely by Farmiga and Caan). But there are also a number of unintentionally laughable story points (using a sledge hammer to destroy a dressing room wall while no one in the immediate vicinity hears anything was a favorite). HENRY'S CRIME is inoffensive and well-intentioned, but the execution falls well short of its potential.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why audiences root for the bank robbers in movies like this. Do you think the fact that Henry had already been to prison for a crime he didn't commit makes it more acceptable to want him to succeed?
The filmmakers accepted an R rating for this movie solely so they could have their characters swear. Do you agree with their decision? Why or why not? Would the movie be less effective without the strong language?
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