A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has extreme and intense peril and violence. Characters are killed without provocation, and there are references to other murders. Characters smoke and use very strong language, and there are references to adultery (or the wish to commit adultery).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
PHONE BOOTH begins as publicist Stu (Colin Farrell) walks down the street, his intern trotting beside him, handing him pre-dialed cell phones so he can keep up a continuous loop of shmoozing, lying, and manipulating his various connections -- including a pretty would-be actress named Pam (Katie Holmes), a tasty prospect for both business and pleasure. But Stu doesn't want to call Pam from the cell phone because his wife sees the bills. So he stops in the last phone booth in Manhattan, which turns out to be a very big mistake. The phone rings, and Stu answers. The man on the other end (Kiefer Sutherland) tells him that he has a rifle pointed at Stu, and that he will shoot him if he hangs up or tells anyone about it. He seems to know all about Stu, his wife Kelly (Rhada Mitchell), and Pam. When a pimp comes after Stu because his girls want to use the phone, the sniper shoots him, and the police, led by Captain Ramey (Forrest Whitaker), think Stu did it. Stu is surrounded by police with guns pointed at him, both Pam and Kelly are there, and the sniper will not let him get off the phone.
Is it any good?
Even the most paranoid fantasies have to make sense at some level, and this one just doesn't. This film is based on a short student film and was shot in just 12 days. It's a Hollywood film that is trying for the vibe -- and the indie cred -- of a smaller film. Phone Booth tries to have Stu's confinement in the phone booth shape both the story and its impact.
The premise is all right and while it does create a lot of tension and Farrell and Whitaker are always great to watch, the movie feels manipulative and padded. The "Who do you think you are?" sign behind Stu and the "I'll never lie again and will show the proper respect" climax are heavy-handed and pretentious and the attempted twist at the end is heavy-handed and predictable. Farrell, usually impeccable with American accents, completely misses in his attempt to sound like an upwardly mobile guy from the Bronx.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: April 4, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: July 8, 2003
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Kiefer Sutherland
- Director: Joel Schumacher
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language and some violence
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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