A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic story of revenge and romance is filled with swashbuckling, sometimes bloody, violence, ruthless characters, and grand heroics. The many action sequences include: sword fighting to the death; knife fights; shooting with muskets, handguns, and rifles; brutal whippings, a suicide by gunshot, an attempted hanging, kidnapping, and drowning. Several deaths take place on screen. There are a few curse words: "damn," "bastard," "whore." Two lovers kiss, embrace passionately, and are seen twice, partially clothed, lying in each other’s arms after having implied sex. Reference is made to adultery and an out-of-wedlock birth. Several scenes show the consumption of alcohol at social events and in private; one leading character frequently drinks heavily and appears drunk.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In this adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' novel, James Caviezel plays Edmund Dantes, an honest sailor who has a devoted girlfriend named Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) and a lifelong friend, Fernand. When he is promoted to captain and can afford to marry Mercedes, he thinks all of his dreams have come true. But Fernand, overcome with jealousy, betrays Edmund, and Villefort (James Frain), a corrupt magistrate, sentences him to life imprisonment. His friends and family are told that he has been executed. After years of brutal abuse, Edmund meets another prisoner (Richard Harris), who teaches him to read and swordfight. They plan an escape, but his friend dies, and Edmund escapes alone, with a map showing the location of a treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. He meets up with pirates and ultimately finds the treasure, enabling him to return in a new persona, the Count of Monte Cristo, where he will prove that "revenge is a dish that is best eaten cold."
Is it any good?
Two things that almost always capture our attention in movies are watching someone learning something and watching someone getting revenge; both are here in gratifying abundance. And once again, in this 15th filmed version of the Alexandre Dumas novel, this most resilient of stories has been made into another thoroughly enjoyable movie.
The script falters, with some clunky dialogue and a Hollywood-ized ending that Dumas fans will find overly convenient. But the performances (especially Pearce, descending from pettiness to decadence and complete corruption), the swordplay, the splendor, and the story, featuring what is probably literature's all-time best revenge fantasy are old-time-movie satisfying and lots of fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in this movie. Did it include the right amount to be a proper swashbuckler, or did it go overboard? How do you feel after watching action-oriented violence?
Are you familiar with the book that inspired this movie? Do you know of any other stories that were inspired by it?
- In theaters: January 25, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: September 10, 2002
- Cast: Guy Pearce, James Caviezel, Luis Guzman
- Director: Kevin Reynolds
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, peril, and sexual situation
- Last updated: May 14, 2020
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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.
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