The Devil's Advocate
By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Violence, sex, profanity dominate graphic temptation tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Few positive messages, mostly conveyed by negative example, about the dangers of temptation and making choices that appease your vanity. Possibly the only thing standing in the way of the devil is that man has free will. The devil will always be around, trying to tempt you into succumbing to him.
Positive Role Models
Kevin's vanity slowly allows him to give in to the temptations of wealth, to neglect his wife, and to go against his conscience by defending criminals he knows are guilty. Eventually he's able to overcome it all but at a great and violent cost. And when he's given a second chance, it's clear that temptation is waiting at every turn. Milton is evil in every way, manipulating people and events for his own ends, but he's dangerously charismatic. Wife Mary Ann is loving and supportive, but her efforts to resist temptation drive her to madness.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of blood and some gore. Some of the violence, including mention of rape, is deliberately not clear as to whether it's real or imagined. Two suicides graphically depicted: One shows stabbing and slitting the throat with blood; the other shows a gunshot to the head with slow-motion falling and close-ups of blood and gore. Very bloody photographs of murder victims shown in investigation context. A toddler holds up a gory, bloody internal organ, possibly in a dream or vision. A beating with a stick is shown with the dead victim's bloody face afterward. A full- frontal nude woman's body with many bloody cuts is shown. Realistic police-operation footage shows a raid on a ritual animal slaughtering with brief, quick-cut images of throat slitting and bleeding. A cow's tongue on butcher paper is manipulated in a ritual. Faces of minor characters briefly morph into grotesque monsters. A gun is shown and used a couple of times. A court case shows a teen testifying about being molested by a teacher. A pedestrian is run over by a car, thrown violently, and the bloody face and body are shown. A scared woman brandishes a knife in the darkness.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Full-frontal nudity of women twice; one is sexual, and the other shows bloody injuries. Several instances of simulated sex, including oral sex, with women's breasts shown and, once, a man's buttocks. A topless woman puts another woman's hand on one of her breasts. Lots of kissing, caressing, and suggestive behavior. A man caresses the underside of a desk with his other hand down his pants. A man encourages incest between half-siblings. Suggestive caressing over clothing. A husband and wife dance suggestively, including biting buttocks over clothing. Clingy, revealing clothing. Characters frequently talk about sex in dehumanizing terms. Subtitles mention infidelity and a vulgar phrase for anal sex. In a restaurant a woman moves off her chair and under the table.
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Frequent, no-holds-barred, strong profanity with many variations. "F--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "bitch," "hell," "Jesus Christ" as exclamation, "pigf--king," "boning," "fistf--k," and "d--k" (body part).
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Products & Purchases
A few Coke cans seen prominently. A bottle of Johnnie Walker shown indistinctly. Characters are constantly tempted by the material trappings of wealth. Many settings are glamorous and luxurious.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink frequently, most often at social occasions but also alone to cope with anger and during the day out of boredom. Several scenes in bars, one showing many shots being poured and consumed with drunken behavior. Rare consequences shown involve emotional outbursts rather than hangovers or remorse. Cocaine addiction mentioned. Smoking crack mentioned in subtitles. Many background and minor characters smoke. Kevin smokes once while talking about how he hasn't started smoking again.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Devil's Advocate has graphic violence and sex; frequent profanity that dehumanizes, especially sexually; and themes including child molestation, murder, incest, and the depths you'll descend to when you give in to temptation. It's not for kids. The violence is graphic, gory, and bloody and tied to sex in a court case involving child molestation. There also are discussions about consenting to sex but then wanting it to stop, and a fully naked woman is shown from the front with bloody cuts all over her body. Another instance of full-frontal female nudity is sexual; several scenes of simulated sex show topless women; and nude male buttocks are shown. There is drinking, smoking, and drugs. Ultimately there's a moral in there about the evils of giving in to temptation, but a plot twist weakens the message. Viewers may be left with conflicting feelings of titillation and revulsion, so they should be old enough to handle those effectively.
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The Devil's Advocate
Based on 3 parent reviews
Great theme, but keep it from ALL kids!
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Not for kids at all
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What's the Story?
Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) is an undefeated trial lawyer in Gainesville, Florida. His conscience starts to get to him when he suspects the teacher he's defending from charges of child molestation really is guilty. But his desire to remain undefeated is strong enough that he puts conscience aside and gets the accused acquitted. The case has brought him to the attention of one of New York City's top, high-powered law firms, which offers him a job there. Kevin and his wife, Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), relocate to the Big Apple, where the head of the law firm, John Milton (Al Pacino), draws them more and more into his bizarre, depraved world by offering them anything they could ever want. When the truth about Milton and his obsession with Kevin is revealed, will Kevin be THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE?
Is It Any Good?
This '90s temptation tale has its moments but is absolutely not for kids. The strong supporting cast is the real star, here. Al Pacino is shudderingly creepy, and Charlize Theron is engagingly vulnerable as her world starts to crumble. Reeves does pretty well, too, in that his Keanu-ness doesn't get in the way of his character too often. But as an effective morality tale, unfortunately the movie falls short. The twist at the end weakens the message about the evils of temptation so that much of the violence, sex, and mature themes, which should serve to show the perils of the dark side, instead seem mostly gratuitous. Viewers will be left feeling conflicted between titillation and revulsion.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about violence in movies. What's the impact of media violence on kids? Why do you think this movie has so much violence?
How much sexual content is appropriate for kids?
Is all the swearing really necessary? Does it tell us anything about the characters, and if it does, does that make it OK? Does it seem realistic or over the top?
- In theaters: October 17, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: November 16, 1998
- Cast: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron
- Director: Taylor Hackford
- Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 144 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Sexuality, nudity, violence, and language
- Last updated: April 3, 2023
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