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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie celebrates friendship/loyalty, old Hollywood, and the magic of the movies, though it also suggests that "progress" is inevitable -- and that some people, especially those who are no longer young or fresh, may be cast aside in the process. Characters eventually learn difficult lessons about being overly proud and turning away help and affection when they're offered.
Positive Role Models
George starts out full of confidence and cheer (albeit with a tendency to hog the limelight); as his fortunes change, so does his outlook. Frustration and self-pity eventually overwhelm him, but he fights his way out of their shadow and learns that it's not beneath him to accept help and friendship from others. Peppy overall lives up to her name -- she's determined and goal-oriented, but she's also cheerful, loyal, and energetic.
Violence & Scariness
In one tense/upsetting scene, it appears as though a character is going to commit suicide with a gun (he puts it into his mouth). Also, the movie opens on a mild torture scene (a character is shocked via electricity) that turns out to be part of a film within the film -- as are a few quick fight/chase scenes that follow. Another film-within-a-film sequence shows someone falling victim to quicksand. Also, a car crashes, and a reckless fire gets out of control and causes damage to property and one character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some flirting, longing glances, close dancing, and chaste embraces.
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One use of "damn" (on title card); one rude gesture (a character flips someone off).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Very frequent smoking (accurate for the era); mostly cigarettes, but also some cigars. Adult characters also drink (mostly cocktails/hard liquor), sometimes to excess; while drunk, one character has visions and makes a rash, dangerous decision.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Artist -- a black-and-white homage to Hollywood's silent movies of the 1920s -- is nearly silent itself, relying on characters' gestures and expressions, the musical score, and occasional title cards to tell its story of fame, fortune, and friendship. As such, it might not appeal to many kids, but those who really love movies may be drawn in by its references, setting, and old-fashioned celebration of cinema. There are a few tense/violent scenes, including one in which a distraught character puts a gun in his own mouth and another in which a fire gets out of control. You can also expect lots of era-accurate smoking and a fair bit of drinking, including some overindulgence. But there's virtually no language or sexual content, and in the end characters learn important lessons about the value of friendship and humility. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE ARTIST is a movie for people who love movies. It lovingly pays tribute to a glamorous Hollywood that no longer exists, celebrating starry-eyed girls dreaming of red carpet glory, mustachioed matinee idols, and audiences who wholeheartedly buy into the celluloid illusions that flicker in the dark. It touches on some dark themes -- the relentless nature of "progress," the risk of being marginalized by the latest technological achievement, the dangers of excessive pride -- but it's still ultimately an uplifting story about friendship, loyalty, and the power of the movies. And it definitely isn't without humor; director Michel Hazanavicius strategically (and playfully) uses the movie's few non-silent moments to elicit knowing laughs.
While the movie's two stars -- both of whom are delightful -- are French, the supporting cast is filled with faces that will be more familiar for American audiences, from John Goodman as a blustering studio executive to James Cromwell as a loyal chauffeur/valet. The score is excellent, the cinematography lovely (there's a reason directors like to film people smoking in black and white). The Artist may not appeal to kids as much as the similarly themed Singin' in the Rain, which is more upbeat and accessible overall, but for anyone who's passionate about cinema, it's a must-see.
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.