A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that High Fidelity is a 2000 comedy in which John Cusack plays a self-absorbed Chicago record store owner trying to make sense of a difficult break-up. When getting caught up with an ex-girlfriend over dinner, the ex tells the lead character how she was in a situation that was a borderline rape after they broke up. In a flashback, it's shown that the lead character, as a teen, broke up with her because she wouldn't have sex with him. Lead character talks of trying to touch the breasts of the girls he dated in high school, or to put his hand between their legs. The two lead characters hear a couple having sex in the apartment above theirs. When one of the record store clerks tells the other clerks that he has a date, one of the other clerks tells him to "smoke that ass." Frequent talk of sex, usually in the context of the relationships the lead character has had in his life. Reference to an abortion. In a flashback scene, when the lead character, as a tween, witnesses his first girlfriend making out with another boy, his friend calls her a "slut." Profanity often used -- "f--k" used a lot. "Motherf--ker" used once. "S--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass" also used. Lead character smokes a lot of cigarettes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In HIGH FIDELITY, Rob Gordon (John Cusack) owns a vintage record store called Championship Vinyl. Only the two hopeless guys who work for him (Jack Black and Todd Luiso) make him feel like a grown-up by comparison. They sit around all day, getting rid of potential customers who are just not cool enough to be allowed to buy their records, endlessly ranking everything in the world. They hyper-critically rate everything except for their own sorry lives. His girlfriend Laura's departure prompts Rob to make a list of his five worst break-ups, which allows him to comfort himself that she is not even on the list. But as he tracks down the five on the list to see if he can figure out what went wrong, he begins to admit to himself that he is deeply wounded, and not just because he feels threatened and competitive at the thought of her new love interest (Tim Robbins). He has to allow himself to understand that "fantasies always seem really great because there aren't any problems," but that he needs to move on to reality.
Is it any good?
Rob spends more time talking to viewers than he does to any of the other characters in the movie, which is part of the problem. He asks the audience, "Do I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?" His candor and charm, both considerable, have allowed him to carry his adolescence through his 20s, and he's much more comfortable concocting the definitive list of the best side-one, track-one songs ever than he is thinking about, say, the definitive list of worthwhile things to do with his life. And he has to allow himself to be a little less self-obsessed. Fortunately, the "professional appreciator" is wise enough to see how special Laura is, and that he can't just "create a sketch of a decent, sensitive guy;" he can actually become one. Best for teens who like romantic dramas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationship movies. How does this compare to other movies in which the lead character is single and trying to find a lasting relationship?
This movie was based on the novel by Nick Hornby. What would be the challenges in adapting a novel into a movie?
How was music used throughout the movie -- to define the characters, drive the story, and heighten the movie's themes?
- In theaters: March 31, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: September 8, 2000
- Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Cusack, Tim Robbins
- Director: Stephen Frears
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some sexuality
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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