A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Justifies murder if committed for a good reason. A young boy is involved with dark, strange deeds, with no foreseeable consequences.
Positive Role Models
None of the main characters seem to have any kind of moral compass at all, although some of the supporting characters show empathy by trying to help Baker and deter him from killing.
Violence & Scariness
A man is said to be abusing his wife. He stands next to her naked body and removes his belt; she's later shown with welts on her back. A character is assaulted offscreen; his hand is broken, his face bruised. Lots of blood. A character dies, dragged into the ocean. Main character threatens two others with a knife. A boy draws a knife. Murder is discussed. Discussion of "little girls" being available as prostitutes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character has sex with two women. His naked bottom is shown. Thrusting, moaning, kissing. A woman's partial naked bottom is shown. Main character shown shirtless in several scenes. Main character swims naked, seen only in silhouette. Man smacks his wife's behind.
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Frequent language includes uses of "f--k," "f---ing," "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--k," "pr--k," "ass," "hell," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "goddamn."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of Facebook.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are frequently shown drinking (mostly beer and rum) to excess in a social context. In a moment of despair, the main character downs two bottles of rum (but sobers up fairly quickly). A secondary character is a hard drinker, possibly an alcoholic. Main character smokes cigarettes in more than one scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Serenity is a mature thriller/film noir starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. Domestic abuse is suggested: A man is shown taking off his belt next to his naked wife; later, welts are seen on her back. A boy pulls a knife, a character is killed, and lots of blood is shown when a character's hand is broken. Murder is discussed, and there's a disturbing mention of "little girls" working as prostitutes. Characters' naked bottoms are seen (both male and female), and the main character has sex with two women on three occasions, with thrusting, groaning, and some kissing. Language is also very strong, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters drink frequently, sometimes to the point of extreme drunkenness. The main character smokes cigarettes. The film goes in an unexpected direction, and while it works for a while, by the halfway point, it comes pretty badly unraveled. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Starting out with promise, like a glossy, heated, modern-day film noir tribute, this thriller eventually begins to reveal its twist, and everything that was working until then simply collapses. Written and directed by Steven Knight, who usually specializes in dark, noir-like stories (Eastern Promises, Locke, etc.), Serenity goes in a more science fiction-y direction, and several things fall apart. For one, the heightened performance style, presumably borrowed from classic movies like Double Indemnity, stops working as well within the new context. It becomes difficult to care about the characters, and the actors' oversized performances are somewhat silly. (Only Hounsou somehow hangs on to his dignity.)
And the entire film noir concept, with its sex, booze, and murder, doesn't make any sense when the twist comes; it's actually somewhat icky in context. Even the twist is handled poorly. Rather than saving it for a jaw-dropping moment at the very end, it's slowly foreshadowed (through odd cuts and camera movements and some dream/nightmare sequences), revealed early, and explained extensively, without leaving even the slightest possible hint of ambiguity about what's really going on. There's no mystery. The island scenery is appealing -- with occasional lightning storms adding atmosphere to the bright island air -- and Hathaway makes a great femme fatale. It's too bad Serenity couldn't have been a straight-up film noir from start to finish.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.