By Heather Boerner,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Tatum O'Neal's smoke- and booze-filled caper.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Addie and Moze fleece widows, bootleg liquor, escape from the police. Generally, their bond is over being criminal.
Violence & Scariness
Moze and Addie are shot at by police during a car chase. Moze and a guy wrestle and fight, with Moze punching him. Moze is attacked and beaten off-screen and seen beaten, with blood on his face and a split lip. Addie sits in the driver's seat of a car with no brakes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Moze kisses a woman in the doorway of his hotel room, with Addie looking on. Lots of talk about Addie's mom being a "slut." Moze dates a woman who's a prostitute and Addie tries to talk the woman into turning a trick while Moze is out. Lots of talk of "putting out."
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Lots of salty language, including "ass," "damn," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "tits," and "godammit."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Addie, Moze, and Trixie all smoke cigarettes pretty regularly. Once, Moze even lights it for her. Addie's mom died in a drunk driving accident. Several characters drink alcohol, and they steal alcohol, too.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though this movie stars a 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal, there's plenty of drinking, smoking (even by Tatum's Addie), and corruption on display. The movie actually starts with Addie's mother's funeral. Some scenes are thematically intense, especially when Ryan O'Neal's character Moze is chased down by corrupt policemen and beaten. Characters are also dragged into the police station for selling stolen bootleg liquor.
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What's the Story?
Buddy movies are great fun, and so are caper flicks -- movies where you get to live out a fantasy of not being good; of in fact being really, really bad. For some viewers, PAPER MOON will be the ultimate bad-girl escape film: full of road trips, car chases, money, tricks, and general hijinx. Tatum O'Neal stars in her Oscar-winning role as Addie Loggins, a little girl whose mother has just died and is suddenly thrust into the care of Moze (Tatum's dad, Ryan O'Neal), a traveling conman whom Addie is convinced is her real father because they have the same chin. While Moze denies it, he does take little Addie under his wing, teaching her to con widows out of money, steal liquor, and generally live a depraved but fun life.
Is It Any Good?
If kids can get past the black-and-white screening created by director Peter Bogdanovich, they may love the pleasure Addie takes in tricking people. And she may have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but she's certainly the star of the film. You can thank the writing for that.
Addie, as a street-wise orphan, is smarter, sneakier, and more conniving than her foil of a father figure. As Moze dumbly tryies to get the same $7 out of every widow for a "deluxe edition Bible," Addie adjusts prices based on a customer's financial status and earns them more money. When she feels abandoned by Moze for taking a lover, the "harem slave" Trixie (Madeline Kahn), Addie is sharp enough to know that Trixie is a prostitute and makes sure Moze catches her turning a trick. No doubt, Addie (cigarette dangling) lives in a very adult, criminal world, and it's why this movie is a much better choice for teens and up.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about life during the Great Depression. This film makes light of the desperation and dispair of life in the Great Depression, but perhaps now would be a good time to talk to kids about your own family's experience during the Great Depression. How were grandparents and great-grandparents affected by it? This film is a good opportunity to talk about what brought about the Great Depression and how many families made ends meet.
- In theaters: July 24, 1973
- On DVD or streaming: August 12, 2003
- Cast: Madeline Kahn, Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal
- Director: Peter Bogdanovich
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: June 3, 2023
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