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 extremely violent thriller is full of potentially controversial/offensive social commentary about extreme right-wing religious radicals, gay bashing, the effect of the Patriot Act, and Internet porn. Though the movie's dark mood isn't typical for writer/director Kevin Smith (who usually makes edgy comedies), the content is everything you'd expect from the man behind Clerks, Dogma, and Chasing Amy: extremely strong, constant language and sexual innuendo. This time Smith ups the ante by adding brutal violence, including torture, imprisonment, murder, blood, gore, and many, many dead bodies. There's also teen drinking and a scene of an adult drinking to drunkenness.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Somewhere in Middle America, three teens find an online ad for sex with a middle-aged woman (Melissa Leo). They drive out to the middle of nowhere to meet her, ready for the foursome she has planned. But instead, she drugs them, and they become the prisoners of Abin Cooper's 5 Points Trinity Church. Cooper (Michael Parks) and his followers firmly believe that homosexuals are "Satan's instrument on earth," which they believe gives them license to torment and kill anyone they suspect of being gay. Before long the police, commanded by Joseph Keenan (John Goodman), arrive, leading to a bloody shootout. Will the good guys survive? Are there any good guys?
Is it any good?
This gruesome, brutal movie is going to be a tough sell to fans of Smith's usual humorous fare. Writer/director Kevin Smith is known for his vulgar comedies about troubled slackers (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, etc.), but for his 10th feature film, he strikes out in a radical new direction with a horrific thriller. Aside from RED STATE's rampant language and sex talk, it barely feels like a Smith movie -- unless you consider that religion in some form or another has crept into many of his films, most notably Dogma. He's clearly very angry at those he thinks justify hatred in the name of righteousness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. What is its purpose? Is it necessary to the story? When does media violence cross the line? And who determines where that line falls?
Are there any examples of a healthy relationship in the movie? Are any of the characters role models?
How does this movie compare to Kevin Smith's other films? Does he have a consistent agenda? How would you define it?
- In theaters: September 23, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2011
- Cast: John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Parks
- Director: Kevin Smith
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence/disturbing content, some sexual content including brief nudity, and pervasive language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
For kids who love thrills
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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.
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