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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Knives Out is a delightful all-star murder-mystery comedy that's reminiscent of Agatha Christie stories. Violence includes a murder victim with a slit throat and a trickle of blood, fighting (punching and slapping), arguing, and harsh dialogue. Language includes one "f--k," plus "s--t," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," and more. There's a bit of sex-related talk, and one character is said to have had an affair. People drink at a party, characters smoke cigars and pot (there's a secret stash of joints), prescription meds are injected, and there's dialogue about a morphine addict. Starring Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and many more, this expertly crafted movie is both a satisfying mystery and a hilarious comedy with appealing characters, and it even touches on the state of the world today and sends the message that kindness and compassion are virtues that win the day.
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What's the story?
In KNIVES OUT, wealthy, successful crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) celebrates his 85th birthday with his family. But at the party, he argues with just about everyone over money, business, or other things. Later, he's found with his throat slit, and Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Richard (Don Johnson), Walt (Michael Shannon), Joni (Toni Collette), and Ransom (Chris Evans) are among the suspects. Master detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called in to solve the seemingly impossible case. The key to the mystery, Blanc realizes, lies with Marta (Ana de Armas), who was Harlan's nurse and caretaker and who has a condition that causes her to vomit whenever she tells a lie. The reading of the will sends a shockwave throughout the family, and Blanc finds his final, elusive clue when the murderer prepares to strike again.
Is it any good?
This delightful, hilarious, clever mystery-comedy is total entertainment, with expert, precision work at every level -- but also with an irresistible, gleeful sense of fun bursting from the screen. After taking Star Wars to a new level with The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson seems fully refreshed on Knives Out, keeping his feet on the ground and staying mostly in one beautiful location. From the ground up, he's crafted a solid moviegoing experience, starting with a sparkling gem of a screenplay. An Agatha Christie-inspired tale, the movie's mystery is airtight enough to puzzle most whodunit buffs.
But the movie is also beautifully balanced among its excellent cast, with each member feeling appealingly human and shining in individual moments. Visually, Knives Out is splendid, fluid in the way it moves around the nooks and crannies of the huge house and also when it lingers on its unforgettable "wheel of knives" centerpiece. The music by Nathan Johnson (Rian's cousin) is equally effective. Old-fashioned on the surface, the movie is nevertheless rooted in the modern-day, with several smart, sane references to current insanity. Finally, it's clearly designed for multiple viewings, not only to catch all the sly jokes but also the many concealed clues. If Knives Out has a flaw, it's that the movie is so effortless it might feel lightweight.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Knives Out's violence. Why is there so much fun being had around a murder in this story? What's the movie's attitude toward death and killing?
One character is incapable of lying without becoming physically ill. What does the movie have to say about honesty in general? Is it useful? Is it rewarding?
The family's true character is shown when it's revealed who gets the fortune. How does money impact relationships?
How does this movie compare with Agatha Christie stories? What makes it similar or different?
- In theaters: November 27, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 25, 2020
- Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Toni Collette
- Director: Rian Johnson
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Character strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 24, 2020
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