A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Richard Pryor's Gus Gorman is as much of the main character in this movie as Superman. Therefore, expect some of the "loveable" con-artist antics that made Pryor famous in his R-rated films, including drunkenness, theft, avoiding honest work, and even letting a swear word slip out. It's all suitably rendered PG-mild, though.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Computer genius Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) goes from grunt to a much higher position at a large firm when his greedy boss, Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn), promotes him. In his new position as a hacker, Gorman's job is to create worldwide disasters that will allow Webster to control coffee and oil markets. Since only Superman (Christopher Reeve) can stop this, Webster assigns Gorman to figure out a way to kill Superman. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is visiting his hometown of Smallville for a high-school reunion. He rekindles a friendship with Lana Lang (Annette O'Toole), now a divorced, struggling single mother. The two have something that looks like an incipient romance, and Clark becomes a father-figure for Lang's boy, who, of course, needs rescuing by Superman now and then. Meanwhile, Gus Gorman creates a synthetic kryptonite in hopes it will finally put an end to Superman. It's flawed, however, and instead of destroying Superman it causes personality change, bringing out Superman's selfish, morose, and evil aspects.
Is it any good?
Though it's not up to the first Superman: The Movie, this installment isn't an embarrassment, and there are some intriguing elements. Reeve, who fought a never-ending battle against movie critics over how good an actor he really was, is especially noteworthy here, hardening his eyes and tightening his jaw and making this Mr. Hyde-Superman callous, unshaven, and homicidal. Edgy comedian Richard Pryor brings his typical screen persona, a rebellious urban petty hustler, somewhat jarringly, into Metropolis.
Computer knowledge and data technology in this film are pretty much a kind of awesome, omnipotent magic, a recurring and amusing cliche in movies of this time, and viewers may wince or giggle at the inaccurate depictions of computer technology.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the splitting up of Superman's "good" and "evil" sides; who ever thought Superman would have a dark side at all? What could the Man of Steel have going on inside to be frustrated and angry about? If you're hip to DC comics, you can talk with kids about how Batman is often described as the dark version of Superman, and take the philosophizing from there.
- In theaters: June 17, 1983
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2001
- Cast: Christopher Reeve, Jackie Cooper, Richard Pryor
- Director: Richard Lester
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence, profanity, sexual innuendo, alcohol use
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.