Parents' Guide to

The French Dispatch

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Nostalgic tribute to expat writers has nudity, language.

Movie R 2021 103 minutes
The French Dispatch Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+

I thought I was a fan.

I just want to add to the other reviews and include that once in the film it talks about oral sex very colorfully and another part briefly describes almost being raped but it worded with the f*** word. Full frontal nudity and under age girls breasts being shown. Age inappropriate coupling that includes a minor. All in all, I'm a pretty open parent and i'm so glad my 12 yr old refused to go with me!
age 15+

Quirky, witty, star/studded visual feast

Fun addition to the Wes Anderson series, depicting stories from a fictional French outpost published in a Kansas print periodical meant to emulate 1960’s Paris and the New Yorker Magazine, respectively. Well-known Hollywood stars ranging from Timothy Chalamet and Frances McDormand to Tilda Swinton and Benicio Del Toro are too numerous to fully list due to the three separate stories - plus there is a delightful visual tour early in the film of publisher Arthur Howitzer’s world (Bill Murray) by Owen Wilson’s character. Violence is semi-comical (including the hilarious cartoon in the last segment), sexual humor is within the scope of Anderson’s high-brow humor and (sometimes full) nudity is non-sexual: artistic/aesthetic and, in one case, brief and comedic. Content, pacing and breadth of topics make this comedy suitable for mid-teens and up, as a perfect transition to the more adult-type films that the director has to offer. It is a visual treat, and could be enjoyed both in the theater and via repeat home viewings in order to catch all the details.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (11 ):

The auteur theory lives on in Anderson's well-performed, intricately staged homage to a time when editors and journalists were believed -- and beloved. While it's not necessary to read the New Yorker archives to enjoy The French Dispatch, it helps to be familiar with Baldwin, Lillian Ross, Mavis Gallant, Joseph Mitchell, Wallace Shawn, and other members of the United States' mid-20th century literati. All of the actors, whether longtime Anderson company members or new additions to his ensemble, seem to be having a grand time, but the standout heavy lifting is done by Wright, McDormand, Chalamet (whose role was reportedly written specifically for him), and Swinton. Léa Seydoux gives a mostly wordless (and nude) performance as Del Toro's prison guard/lover/muse. Wilson, Brody, Murray, and the gang are fun to watch, naturally, but Anderson's films aren't as much about the actors as they are about the director himself.

Here's where Anderson and his crew shine: the intricate set-building and art direction. Every detail in The French Dispatch, from the hilarious "The Kids Are Grumpy" graffiti to the prison-art gallery pieces to the mannered hair and costumes, looks as purposeful and precise as in a stop-action film. Part of that meticulous style, however, is that the emotional core of Anderson's films is secondary to the overall aesthetic. One needn't be a film student to pick out what Anderson's movies look like, but what they make audiences feel is a different story. There's laughter, there's melancholy, there's appreciation of everything from the clever character and place names to the absurdity of Tony Revolori and Del Toro playing the same character at different stages in his adult life. But ultimately, the movie remains emotionally at a distance, and for a story about journalists, that may be appropriate ("journalistic neutrality" is remarked upon at least four or five times), but it's also a bit disappointing. Go for the iconic Anderson touches, stay for a few notable moments and scenes, and recall the great foreign correspondents of the past, but don't expect some grand revelation.

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