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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Misery is a 1990 movie based on a Stephen King novel about a novelist who, after a car accident, is rescued by his "#1 fan," a former nurse who is also a deranged killer. While not as bloody as a slasher horror movie, there are some violent moments, including the movie's best-known scene in which the novelist is tied to a bed and "hobbled" with a sledgehammer to both of his ankles. A character is murdered, shot in the back with a shotgun. In the movie's climactic scene, the two lead characters fight to the death with a gun, lighter fluid, a typewriter, and other heavy objects used for bludgeoning. While forced to write a novel for his captor, the novelist, in a fit of writer's block, types "f--k" repeatedly on the page. Other profanity includes "c--ksucker" and "bitch." The writer is kept drugged for a time, at first with pills, then later with a forced syringe shot into his arm. While speaking highly of his work, the antagonist asks the name of the "dago" who made the Sistine Chapel. Overall, the suspense and psychological tension driving the movie to psychotic outbursts and violent altercations is way too much for kids, but older teens and adults should enjoy one of the better adaptations of Stephen King's novels.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Kathy Bates performance is fantastic, but could have potential for scarring and nightmares with children
What's the story?
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, MISERY details the unfortunate exploits of a romance novelist (James Caan) and his obsessively sadistic "number one fan," Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Upon rescuing the writer from a snowy car crash, Wilkes uses extreme measures to keep the object of her admiration at arm's length.
Is it any good?
Powerfully filmed, Misery grips the audience and presents a fascinating character study in psychosis. The truly in-your-face violence may prove to be too much for many adults and teens alike. Don'tt let the credits lure you into a false sense of security. Despite the inclusion of seemingly family-friendly names such as Rob Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride) and Kathy Bates (Fried Green Tomatoes, Primary Colors), you will find no warm fuzzy moments in this film as the story is filled with physical and emotional torture (including one of the most wince-worthy moments of film.)
The film presents a sadistic story of manipulation and torture as Annie struggles to preserve her favorite literary character by torturing its creator. Misery reeks with tension and suspense from beginning to end, as the fate of the writer appears darker and darker. Ultimately, the film culminates in a gruesome battle of wits and will. Watch out for the "hobbling" scene. Nonetheless, Misery did bring Bates critical acclaim and her first Oscar. The film also includes charming performances by Richard Farnsworth and Frances Sternhagen as the small-town sheriff and deputy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they feel about the violence in the movie. They can also use the movie as a basis for discussing safety and protecting themselves from strangers.
How does this compare with other movie adaptations of Stephen King's novels?
How is Annie revealed to be mentally and emotionally disturbed? How is she made into a fully-developed character rather than just a one-dimensional murderer like in other horror movies?
Themes & Topics
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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.