Steal This Movie
By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Abbie Hoffman biopic is unsatisfying.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Some violence at demonstrations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual references and situations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug use and references.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie may be very confusing for anyone who does not remember the 1960s, and teens who want to see it may need some background. The movie has strong language, fairly mild sexual references and situations (including adultery), permissive drug use, and illegal activity by both protesters and the government.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
This biopic chronicles the adult life of 1960s left-wing activist Abbie Hoffman (Vincent D'Onofrio). Hoffman joins civil rights workers in the South, then loses his short hair, suit, and tie to connect with college students protesting the war. He meets his future partner Anita (Janeane Garofolo), and helps to embarrass the Nixon administration in order to show others that they can change what they see as the nation's undesirable status quo. Hoffman and seven others are arrested for protesting at the Democratic convention. At their trial, they publicize what they see as a fundamental injustice in American life with antics that land them on the front page of every newspaper. The government now sees them as such a serious threat that they engage in a campaign of disinformation and persecution. Hoffman is eventually charged with selling cocaine and escapes underground, but can't resist becoming involved and helps organize an environmental protest. But the pressures of living underground and the increasing chemical imbalance of the bipolar disorder turn him fearful and angry.
Is It Any Good?
This movie may be very confusing for anyone who does not remember the 1960s, and teens who want to see it may need some background. This biopic adopts a Citizen Kane-style structure, with a journalist interviewing Hoffman's associates to determine whether he was crazy or a victim. The conclusion seems to be that he was both. It might have worked if the film had been frustrating in the way that the peace movement or the 60's as a whole were frustrating. But this movie is unsatisfying for a far more mundane reason -- a script with a wavering point of view.
While sympathetic to Hoffman's efforts, the story is balanced enough to show parallels between Hoffman and his enemies. Ultimately, though, Steal This Movie is as unsatisfying as its snippets of classic rock song covers -- it never really tries to show how truly revolutionary Hoffman's ideas were.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what their older members were doing during this period and how they felt about Hoffman's activities.
- In theaters: August 18, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2001
- Cast: Janeane Garofalo, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Vincent D'Onofrio
- Director: Robert Greenwald
- Studio: Trimark
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, drug content and some nudity
- Last updated: March 1, 2022
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