A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie starts with a poem about not taking things too seriously ("sigh not so ... and sing hey nonny nonny"), so there aren't any heavy messages to glean. Perhaps: keep a wary eye out for vengeful family members, and rumors are powerful things.
Positive Role Models
The prince gives up his claim for a young lady because his fellow soldier is in love with her. Characters play matchmaker with Beatrice and Benedict out of jest, but not mean-spiritedness. The villain's biggest flaw seems to be that he's cranky in such a lovely Tuscan setting and wants to spoil others' happiness. But nobody's a particularly strong role model.
Violence & Scariness
The fair lady faints after accusations of infidelity, and her betrothed is told she died of grief. Hero's father pulls her hair and slaps her in a rage and Claudio pushes her. Prisoners look ill-treated by incompetent guardsman.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are clearly having sex near an open window, as seen from a courtyard; skin isn't shown, but a few thrusts are apparent. A few minutes into the film the large Italian baths are alive with activity; plenty of bare bottoms (male and female in separate baths) are visible amidst the undressing, playful splashing, and dressing. Characters shout accusations and call Hero "wanton" and that she "knows the heat of a luxurious bed." Some clothed fondling of breasts and slapping of backsides at a masked party.
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"Bastard." Then "ass" is shouted multiple times by a foolish guard who thinks it's a compliment.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
It's set in a vineyard, so wine is a part of all the celebrations. Two characters get stumbling drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this very accessible Shakespeare adaptation gets the PG-13 rating because of a bunch of visible backsides in a jubilant bathing scene and a brief sex scene visible from afar (you'll see a few thrusts but characters are clothed). The rest of the content is pretty mild: a couple bad guys get drunk, a death is faked, and a silly guard shouts "I am an ass!" and thinks it's a compliment. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The best way to handle one of Shakespeare's fluffiest comedies is to keep it as fun and fanciful as intended, and that's exactly what this movie does. The villain is never to be taken seriously here -- so why not cast Keanu Reeves? He's a man of few words anyway. Even better: Michael Keaton as the greasy-haired fool; he's hilarious. Toss in a giddy bathing scene opener, declarations of love dancing in fountains, masked parties full of tipsy revelers, and you forget you were working hard to understand centuries-old prose.
The "Much Ado" portion, however, gets a little tedious. The hysterics over Hero's botched wedding and faked death are overdone and overlong. Rather than rolling eyes while waiting for the happy resolution, why not focus on the Tuscan countryside setting? It's breathtaking.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.