A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels -- which is the directorial debut of Guy Ritchie -- is a complex, fast-paced, loony, British crime movie with lots of violence, including guns and shooting, blood, dead bodies, fighting, brief torture, and many threats. In one quick shot, a man punches a woman (though her face isn't shown). One of the characters works in the sex industry and we see various sex toys lying around his office. There's some brief, out-of-focus nudity, and plenty of innuendo. Language is very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k" and various other words, including English slang and insults. The plot involves marijuana growers and stolen drugs, and characters are stoned. Characters drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes in a social/background way, and cocaine is shown. The mood of this movie is light and fun, and it has a strong cult following, so older teens probably already know all about it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Four Londoners (Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, and Jason Statham) save up their money to enter their buddy in a high-stakes poker game. Despite his skill at reading faces, he loses and they now owe a fortune to a tough gangster. They learn through their next-door neighbors -- whom they can hear talking through thin walls -- where they can find a huge stash of pot (and cash) with little or no security. They design a complex plan to steal it, involving a host of other gangsters and thugs, but of course everything goes wrong. It's then up to coincidence and dumb luck to save the day.
Is it any good?
This is an energetic, clever crime movie that looks into various little pockets of underworld life -- sex, gambling, drugs, and hired thugs -- and uses them all against one another. At the time, it looked as if Guy Ritchie were yet another opportunist cashing in on the Quentin Tarantino fever of the 1990s (and indeed, Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were even more popular in Ritchie's home of England than they were in America). But in retrospect, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels turned out to be much more than that.
Ritchie's camera work is smooth and sprightly, and he has a definite rhythm for slang and profanity in his dialogue. He also has an eye for character actors, and at least two, Vinnie Jones and Jason Flemyng have gone on to interesting careers, while Jason Statham has become a full-fledged star. His way of diffusing violence with humor still definitely owes a little to Tarantino, but it works. Movie-savvy teens will likely be aware of the movie, since it's developed a cult following, but parents should be warned that the violence, though light in tone, is still intense.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. What is the tone of the violence? How does he diffuse the tension?
Are there any role models in this movie? Are the four heroes good characters, even though they do bad things?
Does this movie make crime look fun and/or appealing?
Why aren't there very many women in this world, or in this story? How are the few women treated?
- In theaters: March 5, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2011
- Cast: Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones
- Director: Guy Ritchie
- Studios: Polygram, Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, pervasive language, sexuality and drug content