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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Money Monster is a hostage story crossed with a "media circus" story. It has some violent scenes: There are guns and shooting, characters are wounded and killed, and blood is seen. There are other brief violent images, too, plus the threat of explosives. Language is strong but not constant, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "bitch," and more. A secondary character tries out an "erection cream" and has sex with a woman backstage; they're covered by clothes, but the scene is still pretty graphic. Minor characters snort cocaine and smoke pot briefly. Though it's not a movie that's likely to stick with you, it does showcase bravery, empathy, and honesty.
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What's the story?
Cynical, smarmy Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the host of a short-attention-span personal finance TV show in MONEY MONSTER; he's more or less alienated everyone he works with, including his long-suffering director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). One Friday, after the show begins as usual, a young man, Kyle (Jack O'Connell), wanders onto the set. He pulls out a gun and forces Lee to don a vest laced with explosives. It seems that Kyle lost $60,000 on a bad stock that had been endorsed by Lee; the stock faltered because of a "computer glitch" that seems fishy. Kyle simply wants to know what happened. After a while, Kyle's story begins to get to Lee, and Lee decides he wants to help. Can they find the person responsible and get him to confess?
Is it any good?
Though this familiar material has been done before, both better and worse, Jodie Foster directs with a satisfying combination of admirable skill and old-fashioned Hollywood entertainment. This is her fourth feature directorial effort, and, after working on House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, she seems more technically proficient. Some sequences set in the TV studio of Money Monster contain many images and audio feeds, and Foster juggles them cleanly and effectively.
She tells her story with a few surprises, teeing up fairly typical scenes (a plea to the viewing audience, the kidnapper's girlfriend showing up, etc.) but then having them turn unexpected corners. On the other hand, neither Clooney nor Roberts is particularly challenged here; both are asked to simply be their charming, movie star best. And though the movie is about financial fraud, the ending is more fantasy than reality (it's no The Big Short). But, as an entertainment, it's right on the money.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Money Monster's violence. How does it affect the story? Is it shocking? Does it feel necessary? How does it compare to what you might see in an action movie? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
The movie has one sex scene, but it's pretty graphic. How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids?
How does the movie relate to real-life stories about financial corruption?
- In theaters: May 13, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 6, 2016
- Cast: Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Jack O'Connell
- Director: Jodie Foster
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Character strengths: Empathy
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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