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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages, as there are negative portrayals of both the police and the legal system. People break the law in an attempt to achieve their goals.
Positive Role Models
Mother takes extreme measures to try to free her imprisoned son -- even if this means breaking the law. Yoon Do-joon has learning disabilities and is let down by others. But he is both passive and quick to anger, and at the start of the movie talks about having sex but not caring who with.
Violence & Scariness
Someone is hit by car and sustains minor, bloody injuries. The same car is later vandalized. Scuffles with makeshift weapons such as golf clubs and sticks. A dead body is shown draped over wall. Characters are dragged into cars and onto fairground rides. Punches and kicks are thrown as part of a martial arts demonstration. Characters are slapped in the face and drop-kicked. A schoolkid is bullied and threatened with a knife. Various characters kicked -- including one in the in face, causing a tooth to be knocked out and blood to be spilled. Wrench used as a weapon resulting in the death of a character, whose house is subsequently burned down. Reference to a previous murder-suicide attempt. Character killed after being hit with a rock.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to sex. One character undresses in prison, removing their trousers. Couple are seen naked from the waist up. They are then shown having sex fully naked. Kissing that leaves lipstick marks. One character looks at porn on a computer. Various suggestive photos of couples posing or appearing to have sex.
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Cursing includes "a--hole," "s--t," "bastard," "f--k," "s--theads," "retard," "piss off," "go to hell," "f--ker," and "bitch." Also "schoolgirl p---y," "c--ks," "for Christ's sake," and "poop."
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Products & Purchases
Alcohol and golf clubs feature occasionally but there is no lingering on brands labels. Mobile phones and their accessories feature often but likewise no brand names are prominently displayed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink beers and spirits in bars and restaurants. Numerous characters appear drunk -- some seemingly even passing out. One character drinks rice wine from a bottle. Some characters drink to alleviate problems rather than for enjoyment. Characters smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mother -- also known as Madeo -- is a Korean (with English subtitles) black comedy-drama with violence, strong language, and themes of a sexual nature. The movie is written and directed by Bong Joon-ho whose Parasite won the Best Picture Oscar in 2020. After Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) -- a man who has learning difficulties -- becomes the main suspect in a high-profile murder case because of the circumstantial evidence against him, his mother (Kim Hye-ja) tries to track down the real killer. There are several incidences of people sustaining injuries that draw blood, most notably when a character is kicked in the face and loses a tooth. Another character is attacked with a wrench, which causes his death, before his house is burned down. There is strong -- and sexual -- language throughout. Male characters discuss female characters having sex using mocking and degrading words and phrases, with one young character referred to as having "schoolgirl p---y." There is one sex scene where both characters appear nude with their top halves clearly visible. There are also suggestive photos, some of which include characters having partially clothed sex. Characters are regularly seen drinking -- sometimes to excess -- as well as smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Much like writer and director Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning Parasite, this film is an unflinching satire of South Korea's failing institutions. Mother (or Madeo to give it its original title) also examines how disempowered people often resort to tactics that cross moral and legal lines. Skilfully shot with rich cinematography, it wastes no time drawing the viewer into the characters' world. Their frustrations form both the moral center and the emotional core of the movie.
However, the first hour is both slow and light on plot, which makes for a frustrating viewing. That it leans heavily on the broad comic performances that undercut several of Bong's movies results in a heavy-handed portrayal of the problems vulnerable people face in their everyday lives, too. The ending is stark and memorable, but overall this is an uneven watch, most likely to be enjoyed only by Bong's most dedicated fans.
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