A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Savages (from director Oliver Stone) is about two drug dealers who share the same girlfriend (Gossip Girl's Blake Lively) and must rescue her after she's kidnapped by a powerful cartel. There are strong sex scenes, one scene of full-frontal nudity by a minor female character, and lots of pot smoking, as well as some drinking and cigarette smoking. You can also expect graphic violence, including women being kidnapped and held prisoner (with sexual assault implied), guns and shooting, lots of blood, severed heads, brains blown out, exploding cars, a man being tortured and burned alive, and many dead bodies. Language is also strong, with uses of "f--k" and other words throughout.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In SAVAGES, O (Blake Lively) narrates the story of her love affair with two Laguna Beach pot-growers: the Zenlike, laid-back Ben (Aaron Johnson), and the hard, ex-military Chon (Taylor Kitsch). A large drug cartel offers to buy their operation, but Ben and Chon refuse. Unfortunately, this results in O being kidnapped. Ben and Chon draw on all their knowledge and friends, including a crooked DEA agent (John Travolta), to rescue her. Unfortunately, they're dealing with the extremely dangerous drug empress Elena (Salma Hayek) and her homicidal henchman, Lado (Benicio Del Toro). It's going to take everything they've got to survive the final showdown.
Is it any good?
This Savages is a snooze. Oliver Stone's movies were once incendiary and had the power to get people talking about strong issues. For example, Natural Born Killers used a pulp story to say something about the callousness of media. Now Stone has made an ordinary pulp movie with very little to say, and he seems rather bored with pulp for pulp's sake. He sometimes adjusts the movie's color scheme to make things look sun-baked yellow or tropical fishtank rainbow, but otherwise he's asleep at the controls.
Moreover, the Ben and Chon characters are too one-dimensional and too stuck by their character limitations to be compelling; they bend and change according to the whims of the plot. When they're onscreen, the movie just evaporates. Thankfully, Travolta, Hayek, and Del Toro bring some infectious bravado to their supporting roles. They recall the kind of savagery that Stone used to have but doesn't seem to have anymore.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Savages' strong violence. Is it necessary to the story? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to what you see in horror and action movies?
How does the movie portray sex and relationships? Can O really love both of them equally? Can they both love her equally and not feel jealous?
Can Ben be considered a role model? Does his helping others help erase the destructive, illegal, and immoral things he does?
- In theaters: July 6, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: November 13, 2012
- Cast: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
- Director: Oliver Stone
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 129 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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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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