A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the theme of this movie is lying, and while Viktor suffers for his lies, he pretty much gets away with them. Characters drink and smoke. And the movie has the Parent Trap problem of reuniting divorced parents, which may be a difficult subject for some families.
What's the story?
Movie director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino) has had it with actors. When the high-maintenance star of his new movie (Winona Ryder) quits, Viktor finds the perfect substitute to star in his movie. She's perfect because she will do anything he says. And she will do anything he says because she isn't human -- she is a computer simulation living in a hard drive. He can take a little bit of Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and a dozen other stars and then program her to do, say, wear, or digitally appear anywhere he wants to. "Simone" causes a sensation, and many people are only too willing to claim that they have met her in order to make themselves seem more important. And Simone's apparent unwillingness to meet with members of the press only adds to the public fascination with her. But Viktor's creation takes over. Viktor rationalizes his deception as just one small step beyond current practice and decries Hollywood's "irrational allegiance to flesh and blood." According to him, "the only real truth is the work."
Is it any good?
It is great fun to see Pacino do farce and SIMONE has some deliciously sharp satire. Told that a star is willing to do all her own stunts, including a fall from a plane, a studio executive says, "Shoot it the last day." A radio news broadcast announces that no one is paying attention to world affairs because the Oscar nominations are out. It goes on a little long, but it is one of the better comedies of the summer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how it compares to traditional stories about liars like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Pinocchio. And they should talk about how performances by "live" actors compare to those of digitally created characters in movies like Toy Story and Shrek. Do you think there will be a day when movie stars are created by computer?
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