Pawn Shop Chronicles

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Pawn Shop Chronicles Movie Poster Image
Pulp Fiction-inspired nastiness full of drugs and violence.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Characters usually come to a bad end after behaving badly. But the worst offender -- a pervert with his own sexual slavery ring -- gets away in the end. There's a discussion about a white supremacist group, and there's a general air of all things devilish and hellish.
Positive Role Models & Representations
No positive role models here. Drug-addled characters die while trying to steal drugs, another character dies after beating up and torturing several people, and a third character sells his soul to the devil and gets a "happy" ending for it. 
In the movie's second segment, a character's sexual slavery ring is uncovered. He keeps more than a dozen naked women in cages, covered in filth. The man who discovers this tortures him with fishhooks in his face and a hammer to the teeth. Other parts of the movie include scenes in which a character is run over by a truck, leaving him bloodied and gurgling blood from his throat. Characters also fire guns at each other during a hold-up. There's a lethal stabbing, an arrow through the chest, and a huge explosion. Characters fight with one another, using baseball bats, bricks, frying pans, fists, and feet. This is all played for laughs.
The sexual slavery segment features more than a dozen naked women. Breasts and buttocks are shown in close-up, and other parts of the body are shown in long-shot. In a video shown on a big screen TV, three women have sex with a man, while the man watches and masturbates (off camera, making jerking motions with his shoulders). Some innuendo.
Language is very strong and nearly constant, especially in the first segment. Words include "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "p---y," "c---sucker," the "N" word, "dumbass," "damn," "nuts," "pissed," "hell," "bastard," "retard," "balls," "Jesus Christ," and "God" (as exclamations).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the segments is about two meth addicts who are so broke and strung out that they attempt to rob their dealer to get more. A man is shown snorting something, and both characters are shown to be under the influence (viewers see close-ups of their pupils dilating). Drugs are also referenced in dialogue, and the meth lab is shown.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate