A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comic book-like fantasy from the director of 300 has disturbing scenes that show men taking advantage of women ... whose sole purpose is to entertain the men. The main female characters are clad in skimpy clothing for much of the movie, too, which seems hypocritical, given that the film is about how a band of oppressed girls take back their power -- the movie ends up reinforcing some of the stereotypes it's theoretically out to bust. Though the fight scenes are often cartoonish in nature, they’re unrelenting and brutal, including shoot-outs, swordfights, stabbings, beheadings, and the threat of sexual assault. There's some swearing ("s--t"), too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Thrown into an insane asylum after mistakenly killing her sister while trying to defend herself from her menacing stepfather, Babydoll (Emily Browning) preserves her sanity and dignity by allowing her mind to roam free in an otherworldly parallel universe where she’s armed, dangerous, and stronger than anyone else. She enlists the help of four other young women trapped in the hospital: Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Rocket's devoted sister, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). They must stick together to survive the disempowered Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and sociopathic Blue (Oscar Isaac) and his goons, and all before the High Roller (Jon Hamm) makes an appearance.
Is it any good?
Director Zack Snyder may be trying to seduce us into thinking that SUCKER PUNCH is a great movie, but it’s not. He litters the screen with one fantastical fight scene after another, drains the color from all but a few set pieces (you know, to be artsy), and amps up the volume on the carefully calibrated soundtrack. Even though it sports amazing CGI effects and is certainly ambitious in its reach, the movie has no weight behind it, no compelling characters, no elegant storytelling -- in fact, no coherent story at all. (Why does the film place so much importance on Babydoll’s dancing, when it never actually shows her doing so? Why not just give her an entirely different, mesmerizing ability?)
That said, there are a few notable strengths, Cornish being the best of them. She can sell pretty much any role, even this (almost). Her interactions with Malone are so authentic that they seem like they’re in a different world altogether. But even her prodigious talents can’t elevate this strange brew of a movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays women. Do you think it reinforces stereotypes or undermines them? Who are the most powerful characters in the movie?
How do details like the characters' costumes and names affect how you feel about them? Which characters in the movie can be seen as role models?
What impact does the movie's violence have? Would it be different if it was more realistic instead of cartoonish? Why?
- In theaters: March 25, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2011
- Cast: Abbie Cornish, Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens
- Director: Zack Snyder
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language