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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The stories have lessons, though they're not as simple as those in fairy tales for younger audiences. The main take-away is probably about being aware of desire: Coveting things in life and then actually getting them doesn't always lead to happiness. Or, to put it more succinctly, "be careful what you wish for."
Positive Role Models
Even when the characters learn their lessons, they're not admirable.
Violence & Scariness
Characters die. An ogre fights and kills people, breaking necks. Stabbing with blades. Blood runs out of a character's mouth. Neck-slicing, with spurting blood. Underwater fight with a sea monster includes stabbing and blood flowing in the water. Character is flayed, covered in blood. Character eats a giant sea monster's heart. Creepy giant flea. Ogre forces a woman to live in his cave.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several topless women. Graphic sex scene: A woman on top of a man, with breathing/groaning noises. A main character has many sex partners; he's shown kissing breasts. Two of his partners kiss each other and kiss each other's breasts.
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A use of "bastard" (the actual definition).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tale of Tales is an anthology based on old Italian fairy tales, but it's not for kids! Violence and sexual content are both strong -- several women appear topless, and there are a couple of steamy sex scenes and a character with many lovers. On the gory side of things, there's quite a bit of blood, and an ogre attacks and kills several characters, snapping their necks. There's stabbing and slicing with blades, and a violent fight with a sea monster. There's also some creepy imagery, and woman is taken against her will. Two women magically become pregnant. The word "bastard" is used per it's actual definition; there's no other language, and substance use and consumerism aren't issues. The movie could captivate older viewers with its quirkiness, but it's a little short on adventure, wit, and warmth. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Well-made and proudly weird, this collection of fairy tales is missing something; it could have been funny, sexy, or thrilling, but instead it's clinical, like spying on bugs under a microscope. Director Matteo Garrone once made a terrific modern Italian crime movie (Gomorrah), but otherwise, he's struggled to find the right tone for his movies (The Embalmer, Reality, etc.), and TALE OF TALES is yet another example of missing the mark.
In switching between the three main threads, the film stays too long in each, and the movie never really builds an enticing rhythm. Likewise, none of the tales stands out; they all have the same constant thrum, and nothing perks up the storytelling. Some bits, such as the sea monster or the giant flea, feel like they should elicit some kind of reaction, but they just don't; it's like they're museum pieces. Ultimately, this is an interesting but lackluster attempt to bring Giambattista Basile's tales to an American audience.
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.