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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It is brave and just to fight corruption, regardless of the personal cost. One person, if willing to put him or herself at great risk, can bring about major change.
Positive Role Models
Unconventional in his demeanor, lifestyle, and attitudes, Frank Serpico has a strong moral center and is willing to put his life on the line to ensure fairness, honesty, and integrity in the New York City Police Department. Numerous members of the police force are portrayed as corrupt and "on the take," while others are upright and honest; some straddle the fence and are struggling with their consciences. Set in 1973, there are no female police officers involved.
Violence & Scariness
An early scene shows a beating and attempted rape. The female victim, clothes torn and breasts bare, is rescued by NYPD officers. A policeman brutally kicks a handcuffed prisoner; a second prisoner's head is pushed into a toilet. A man is shot in the face and is shown bloody and wounded in several scenes. In addition there are scuffles, car chases, and guns are fired.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing and embracing, no overt sexual activity. Partial nudity (bare breasts) in numerous romantic scenes, including one in which a man and woman take a bath together and are seen from the waist up. Police officers are portrayed as "peeping toms" as they watch an unseen woman undress in a nearby apartment. Accusations of homosexuality are made against a police officer, referencing oral sex.
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Constant swearing throughout. Countless uses of "f--k" in many forms, "screw," "s--t," "bastard," "quiff," "fag," the "N" word, "a--hole," "sucking c--k," "prick," and numerous other explicit insults and epithets.
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Products & Purchases
Coca Cola, Land O'Frost.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of social drinking (champagne, wine, beer). One sequence shows the hero drinking and getting very drunk at a club. Police officials pass out marijuana cigarettes to a squad room, hoping to "teach" the officers the affects of smoking and to recognize the smell; the scene results in some merriment as the officers get stoned. Serpico and others smoke cigarettes throughout.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark police drama deals with adult issues such as dishonesty, brutality, and corruption of law enforcement officers throughout a big city police department. There are numerous violent and suspenseful scenes which include an attempted rape, the beating of handcuffed prisoners by policemen, chases and take-downs on foot and in vehicles, fighting and gunfire. A man is shot in the face, then shown wounded and bloody during several sequences. The hero is in danger through much of the film. There is partial nudity (bare breasts) in romantic scenes, with no explicit sexual activity other than kisses and embracing. Characters drink and smoke; the main character gets very drunk in a club. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
SERPICO is a movie released in 1973 that is as impactful and relevant today as it was when it was made. Performances, writing, attention to detail, and the visual story-telling are all first rate. With stark, harsh scenes which show greed and savagery on the part of both the criminals and the law enforcement officers assigned to protect the public, it is a story of courage, risk, and weighty consequences for both the hero and those he opposes.
Frank Serpico was an "outsider" in company that followed a code of protecting the police brotherhood at all costs. His dilemma transcended the confines of the station house and will have resonance for older teens and adults who find his story and this film both relatable and admirable.
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.