Playing Mona Lisa

 
(i)

 

Funny movie for older teens.
  • Review Date: March 8, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Claire's friends believe women must play games to attract men. A gay man who's in denial about his sexuality gets engaged to a woman to keep up appearances. A man implies that he's smarter than the woman he likes because she's a cheerleader. A few questi

Violence

Claire's friend kicks Claire's cheating boyfriend in the groin.

Sex

Lots of sex talk, including discussions of orgasms, orgies, and penises. Claire pretends that she has slept with women to impress men. Several female characters dress provocatively, and we see Claire in her underwear. Some passionate kissing.

Language

Occasional mild to moderate profanity, with one extreme expletive.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many characters drink excessively, smoke, and use drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Claire experiences depression, causing her parents to worry if she'll ever be herself again. Claire's friends believe women must play games to attract men. A gay man who's in denial about his sexuality gets engaged to a woman to keep up appearances. A man implies that he's smarter than the woman he likes because she's a cheerleader. Occasional mild to moderate profanity, with one extreme expletive. Many characters drink excessively, smoke, and use drugs. A character puts drugs in the party food. An engaged character cheats on her fiance. Lots of sex talk, including discussions of orgasms, orgies, and penises. Claire pretends that she has slept with women to impress men. Several female characters dress provocatively, and we see Claire in her underwear. Some passionate kissing. Claire's friend kicks Claire's cheating boyfriend in the groin.

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What's the story?

PLAYING MONA LISA is similar to the popular teen movie Sixteen Candles. Both movies feature angst-ridden, red-haired protagonists, as well as self-absorbed older sisters about to get married, flaky mothers, gruff but understanding fathers, and even outspoken grandmothers who comment on their granddaughter's breast development! This story centers on 23-year-old Claire (Alicia Witt), who's training as a classical pianist. Claire's life takes a downward turn when she's told she can't participate in a major music event, she's evicted from her house, and she's dumped by her boyfriend. Forced to move in with her parents (Marlo Thomas and Elliott Gould), Claire struggles to find her footing.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This movie distinguishes itself from the pack when Claire realizes that she doesn't need a boyfriend to be complete. She chooses to remain alone so that she can figure out what she really wants. Such a message is refreshing for young women conditioned to believe that romantic relationships are essential for personal fulfillment. Although Witt's fine acting carries the movie, a scene in which Claire's parents unknowingly eat drug-laced food showcases Gould and Thomas's comedic talents. While the movie doesn't glorify drug use, it doesn't condemn it, either.

Older teens will easily identify with Claire's breakup and the way she channels her disappointment into unhealthy pursuits. Less believable are the over-the-top personalities of her family--for example, it's unlikely that Claire's sister would be more upset about a ruined engagement party than about the discovery that her fiancée is gay.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Claire's realization that she doesn't need a boyfriend to be complete, and how it can be beneficial for her to remain single so that she can figure out what she really wants.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 6, 2002
DVD release date:May 6, 2002
Cast:Alicia Witt, Harvey Fierstein, Sandra Bernhard
Director:Matthew Huffman
Studio:Buena Vista
Genre:Comedy
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:drug content, sex-related dialogue and brief language

This review of Playing Mona Lisa was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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