A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Of Mice and Men is the 1992 adaptation of the classic John Steinbeck novel. There are some violent scenes: A woman is shown yelling after being attacked and then being accidentally strangled to death; a man is shot point-blank in the back of the head; and an old dog is taken out to be shot and killed, and, although the dog's death isn't shown, the gunshot is heard. Aside from this, there is some mild profanity throughout (including one use of the "N" word), and characters smoke cigarettes. Given the mature themes and content, this film is best for teens, especially those who are also reading the book.
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What's the story?
In this adaptation of John Steinbeck's Depression-era classic, migrant farm workers George (Gary Sinise) and Lennie (John Malkovich) travel together, hoping that one day, when they've got enough money saved up, they'll buy a little place of their own and live off the fat of the land, and Lennie will get to tend the rabbits. Lennie likes soft things: rabbits, mice, puppies. He's a simpleton, a big powerful child, and soft things excite him. That excitement usually leads to trouble, and that trouble keeps them moving. George and Lennie flee to another in a series of ranches, where trouble is quick to present itself. First, there's the boss' son, Curley (Casey Siemaszko), a little guy who hates big guys. But then there's also Curley's wife (Sherilyn Fenn), a lonely girl looking for attention. When Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife, the two friends' dream crumbles, and George is forced into a devastating decision.
Is it any good?
OF MICE AND MEN is a modest, sincere adaptation of John Steinbeck's Depression-era classic, a must-see for both teens and parents. Bringing John Steinbeck's heartrending short novel to the screen is a difficult task, in large part because of the often parodied character of Lennie (think of the lumbering Warner Bros. cartoon dog who called everyone George and had a special fondness for Bugs -- "I will love him and I will pet him...").
As caricature has a tendency to overshadow character, John Malkovich's performance may be a bit jarring. His Lennie isn't a comical simpleton or a mere child in a grown man's body. There are layers of complexity to him, and yearning, not only to tend the rabbits but to be good and to please his friend. It's a difficult role, and Malkovich forgoes sentiment to make it both tragic and very real. The on-screen chemistry between the stars, Sinise's surefooted directing, and a faithful-to-the-novel script by Horton Foote all are factors that contribute to Of Mice and Men's success.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: October 2, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2003
- Cast: Alexis Arquette, Gary Sinise, John Malkovich
- Director: Gary Sinise
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some scenes of violence
- Last updated: March 24, 2020
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