A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pawn Shop Chronicles is a shockingly violent comedy in three segments, each centered around a small town-Louisiana pawn shop and each crossing over with the others at some point. Violence is very strong, including female sex slaves being held captive in cages, naked and covered in filth. There's also shooting, stabbing, fighting, death, and blood. A man is shown getting sexual pleasure (and masturbating) to his army of naked women, and they're shown with full-frontal nudity in several shots. Language is also extremely strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and most other four-letter words. And drugs are also an issue: The first segment concentrates on meth addicts trying to steal more drugs from their dealer; they're shown under the influence, but not actually taking drugs.
What's the story?
In a small Louisiana town, a pawn shop run by Alton (Vincent D'Onofrio) becomes the focal point for three intersecting stories. In the first, two meth addicts, "Raw Dog" (Paul Walker) and Randy (Kevin Rankin), decide to rob their supplier to get their next dose of meth. In the second, a newlywed (Matt Dillon) finds his missing wife's wedding ring, goes after her, and discovers a bizarre sex-slave ring run by the mysterious Johnny (Elijah Wood). In the third, an Elvis impersonator (Brendan Fraser) must decide between two warring barber shops and then choose whether to sell his soul to the devil. Meanwhile, Alton is haunted by the mysterious driver of a sinister black truck.
Is it any good?
So the movie is crazy and agitated and loud and full of left turns -- and, yes, over-the-top -- but these things don't add up to anything that could be called a good movie. There are a couple of shock-based laughs early on, but then the laughs dry up, as do the thrills and the tingles. It's just horrifying and soul-deadening. All of that said, D'Onofrio gives a very interesting performance as the slightly befuddled pawn shop proprietor.
Director Wayne Kramer once tried to make an insanely over-the-top action movie, Running Scared (also starring Walker), which many admired for its sheer over-the-topness. But then Kramer detoured for the completely earnest (and awful) immigration drama Crossing Over, which proves a point: Kramer isn't going over the top for any honest, organic reason but rather as a cold, calculated exercise. It's the same with PAWN SHOP CHRONICLES, though this time he and screenwriter Adam Minarovich very obviously draw their empty inspiration from Pulp Fiction.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Families can talk about Pawn Shop Chronicles' crazy violence. What's the intent of these shocking images? Who do you think they're meant to appeal to?
- The sexual slavery sequence is perhaps the most disturbing thing in the movie. Parents, talk to your teens about your own values related to sex and relationships.
- How does the movie portray drugs? Does it make them seem at all appealing? Are there any realistic consequences?
- In theaters: July 12, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 27, 2013
- Cast: Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Paul Walker
- Director: Wayne Kramer
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, sexual material, graphic nudity, pervasive language and some drug use