A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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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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
- 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: September 20, 2019
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