A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is not for kids -- but many will want to see it due to the incredibly heavy promotion during TV shows popular with kids. It's far too graphically violent for those under 17, including images of heads being shot and spurting blood, limbs being broken, bodies sprawled and bloody, and expressions of pain by victims of shootings and beatings. Sexual imagery includes a scene in a porn theater that cuts to the screen (the actors are engaged in sexual activity, but no X-rated shots are visible) and frequent sexual slang (some of which is homophobic). Characters smoke in almost every scene, and drink occasionally, and Billy takes pills throughout the film, indicating his increasing paranoia and depression.
What's the story?
THE DEPARTED centers on two moles working at cross purposes while using similar methods -- that is, tipping off their superiors to their opponents' plans via cell phones. Colin (Matt Damon) makes his way through the ranks of the Massachusetts State Troopers while spying for flamboyant Irish mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). In turn, Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and pugnacious Sergeant Dignam (a very entertaining Mark Wahlberg) recruit their own mole, Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) -- whose family background is filled with gangsters and crooks -- to infiltrate Frank's crew.
Is it any good?
A densely layered, lively saga of betrayal and revenge, The Departed features powerhouse performances and virtuoso profanity. Directed by Martin Scorsese and scripted by William Monahan, the movie is brutal and brainy, with speedy plot twists and deceptions layered on top of deceptions.
Less elegant, rowdier, and more neatly resolved than the original, The Departed loves its excesses. Scorsese grants Nicholson a wide berth, and his antics provide plenty of "color" (especially his rat imitation, as he worries out loud about finding the spy). Doubled and different at the same time, both Billy and Colin struggle with their "identities," cleverly illustrated by both the surveillance and communications technology (cell phones, wires, lost signals) they use and the film's editing, which emphasizes their parallel tracks and near collisions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difficulties posed by loyalties and lies. In order to do their job, the two moles have to lie to their friends, associates, and family. What emotional difficulties does that situation create?
What kind of stress would that put on your life over a long period of time?
How would you feel if you found out someone you cared about was living a double life?
Also, what function does Madolyn serve as the protagonists' therapist and lover? And how are both moles' "father figures" -- Frank the gangster and Captain Queenan -- similar?
- In theaters: October 5, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: February 13, 2007
- Cast: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 151 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material.
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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.