A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Inconceivable is a thriller starring Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon. A tribute to '80s/'90s thrillers with female villains -- a la The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, and Fatal Attraction -- this movie also centers on vengeful women who ingratiate themselves with a family, only to wreak havoc. Violence includes two women dying (drowning) and two women seriously injured from stab wounds, as well as a scene that looks a lot like domestic abuse (though in this case, looks are deceiving). The villain swims topless and is caught having sex (in that scene, bare backs and legs are visible). Language isn't constant but includes "f--k," "s--t" and "goddammit." The villain believes that moms who work are abandoning their children, while the heroine shows how a dedicated mother can, with proper support and commitment, balance work and home.
What's the story?
INCONCEIVABLE is the story of Angela (Gina Gershon), a wealthy Midwestern mother and doctor who seems to have it all: a nice house; a supportive husband, Brian (Nicolas Cage); and an adorable 4-year-old daughter. One day Angela meets her personal trainer Linda's (Natalie Eva Marie) good friend Katie (Nicky Whelan), a single mom who also has a 4-year-old daughter. Angela and Katie become fast friends, so when Katie -- who tells Angela that she fled an abusive marriage -- explains that she has a job prospect across the country, Angela impulsively asks her to be their family's live-in nanny instead. But once Katie moves into Angela and Brian's guest house, things start to take a suspicious turn: Katie swims topless, has sexy encounters with strangers, and violently manipulates her way into being Angela's pregnancy surrogate. At that point, Katie's true motives seem clear, but when will Angela realize what's going on?
Is it any good?
This '90s-style domestic thriller isn't campy enough (despite Cage, who for once should have let loose with a scenery-chewing performance) to be a guilty pleasure or good enough to be a true homage. Inconceivable screenwriter Chloe King is the daughter of Zalman King -- a specialist in hard-R, sexually graphic psychological thrillers in the '80s and '90 -- and wrote for his Red Shoe Diaries series, so it's no wonder the movie's dialogue is melodramatic. Debut director Jonathan Baker's pacing is uneven, and there are sequences in which viewers don't quite understand what's happening on screen (and not in a clever way). He also unnecessarily gives himself a supporting role as Barry, a close friend of Angela and Brian's who pops up at a few key moments. While it's a director's prerogative whether to appear in his own film, Baker's acting is amateurish and distracting.
As for Gershon, she at least tries to make the best of messy material as the conned mother of the story. Whelan seems to be having fun with her villainous part, but her delivery of certain important lines will make audiences laugh unintentionally. The less said about Linda, the buxom personal trainer, the better, and it's frankly shocking that Faye Dunaway has been reduced to playing the nosy, suspicious grandmother. Clearly she and on-screen son Cage -- and perhaps the entire cast -- did this one for the paycheck. Those looking for better "crazy, vengeful woman" movies (as offensive as they might now seem), should just stick to the '80s and '90s originals.
Talk to your kids about ...
How would you describe the movie's messages about women and mothers? Is Katie's character a stereotype? How does the story use cultural "mommy wars" as a theme?
What role does sex/physical attraction play in the story? What message does it send when someone's attractiveness is used aggressively?
- In theaters: June 30, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 29, 2017
- Cast: Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon, Nicky Whelan
- Director: Jonathan Baker
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence, sexuality, nudity and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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