The Argument

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Argument Movie Poster Image
Fast-paced, meta screwball comedy has drinking, sex.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

At center of movie is a disagreement between two people and how it might be resolved through compromise or cooperation. Unfortunately, ultimate solution is that one of the characters gets to be "right" and gloats a little, but a lesson is still there. The "meta" aspect of the story is fun but doesn't really offer any lessons.

Positive Role Models & Representations

On a positive note, the six main characters are a wonderfully diverse group. But their behavior doesn't exactly scream "role model." They're likable, and we want to root for Lisa and Jack to succeed and solve their argument, but everyone here is capable of poor behavior with few consequences.


Shouting, arguing.


Close-up of topless woman. Fairly strong sex-related talk/innuendo (mentions of "orgy," "herpes," etc.). Top of a man's butt crack briefly seen (after somersault). Passionate kissing, sex noises, flirting. Man shown shirtless.


Many uses of "f--k," "f--king," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "t-ts," "bitch," "d--k," "hell," "oh my God," and "oh Christ."


Several mentions of Reebok (one character is going to shoot a Reebok commercial). Mentions of Craigslist.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Heavy social drinking by adults. Characters open a fresh bottle of bourbon every night. Some get comically drunk. One character has a hangover and begs not to have to drink anymore, but her request is denied. Wine is also consumed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Argument is a screwball comedy about two people (a couple) who get into an argument at a cocktail party and then re-create the party over and over to try to solve it. It's a quirky idea, and it doesn't always work, but it's so fast-paced and off the wall that it may appeal to some viewers. Expect strong language, with several uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and more. A topless woman is shown in close-up, and there's strong sex-related dialogue/innuendo, passionate kissing, sex noises, a partially naked male bottom, a shirtless man, and more. Characters drink quite a bit (bourbon and wine), with some getting comically drunk. One character has a hangover and asks to be able to stop drinking, but her request is refused. Violence isn't an issue, but there's plenty of shouting and arguing. Dan Fogler, Emma Bell, and Maggie Q star.

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What's the story?

In THE ARGUMENT, writer Jack (Dan Fogler) decides to throw a cocktail party for his actor girlfriend, Lisa (Emma Bell), to celebrate her role in a new play about Mozart -- and also to propose to her. Jack's agent, Brett (Danny Pudi), arrives with his partner, Sarah (Maggie Q), a cynical lawyer with a photographic memory. Unexpectedly, Lisa's flirty co-star, Paul (Tyler James Williams), also shows up with a date named Trina (Cleopatra Coleman). Bourbon flows, jealousy rages, and things get awkward as Jack and Lisa start arguing about the nature of a comment that Lisa makes. That night, Jack and Lisa decide to invite everyone back to re-create the party and perhaps find out who was right. But it turns out that one party isn't enough.

Is it any good?

Not all of the jokes land, and the meta idea of this screwball comedy doesn't entirely hold water, but its breakneck pace and escalating madness are still unexpectedly satisfying. Coming in at just 81 minutes, The Argument covers quite a bit of ground, and, fueled by bourbon and artistic temperaments, it cuts to the emotional center of things quite quickly. There's a great deal of running around, and it could have devolved into a high-pitched drawing-room comedy, but Fogler's shabby, down-to-earth presence keeps things grounded, even as he runs into the kitchen dozens of times to check on a pie that will inevitably end up on the floor.

Likewise, Maggie Q gets the biggest laughs with her icy, snappish line readings, the antithesis of all the looniness around her. On the downside, the idea of why these people would keep returning, night after night, for this crackpot experiment is difficult to buy. Plus, how can an out-of-work writer afford to buy a new $100 bottle of bourbon every night, not to mention the pies and fancy charcuterie platters? Also, the actors who show up for the next level of meta-ness are a bit on the cartoony side. But part of the sly appeal of The Argument is that the characters, and the filmmakers themselves, would even try an idea this unusual, when so many movies barely try at all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Argument's depiction of alcohol and drinking. Does the comical aspect of it make it less iffy? Is alcohol glamorized? Are consequences shown for overindulging? Why does that matter?

  • How is sex represented here? Is there trust? Commitment? What values are imparted?

  • Can shouting and arguing be considered violence?

  • What does the movie have to say about arguing -- and, eventually, compromise? Do both parties come out better in the end?

  • What does "meta" mean? What happens in this movie that's self-referential? What does it say about the characters or the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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