Parents' Guide to

The Oath

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Dark comedy about political divide has violence, language.

Movie R 2018 93 minutes
The Oath Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Heavy and very dark.

Provides a fascinating glimpse of the political divide engulfing America in 2020. Too close to the truth to be funny, especially since the plot resolution is less likely than civil war. Too dark for us as adults, likely to be highly distressing to anyone with a moral compass, especially children. More thriller genre than comedy.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

A demanding loyalty pledge is a clever device for looking at the kind of divides that are capable of splitting up families, but this comedy's storytelling is uneven. The Oath seems to have its heart in the right place and could even be seen as optimistic despite its sometimes pitch-black tone. It definitely has a leftward (or perhaps non-rightward) bent, depicting some on the conservative side as non-critical thinkers, to say the least. But Ike Barinholtz also doesn't skimp on depicting the obnoxiousness and easy triggering that many complain about regarding liberals, too. In that way, the film is balanced: Almost everyone in it is objectionable in some way.

But the story moves in fits and starts, lurching from confrontation to confrontation. Barinholtz goes perhaps too far in making it clear why even reasonable people tell Chris to shut up. The film's sudden dark turn is the kind of adrenaline shot that focuses you, especially since it features John Cho and the versatile Billy Magnussen. It's also a pleasure to see Haddish in such a sensible role, though Jay Duplass' screen time is all too limited. Brownstein has become a welcome screen presence, injecting calm into the chaos. The film declines to name any current politicians, policies, or events, so it's less an exploration of specific issues than a parable about how terrifyingly easy it is to turn people against one another -- and how even those who believe they have strong moral compasses can be led astray under stress. Without spoiling anything, The Oath could be interpreted to have a hopeful outlook, that perhaps the time will come when the country wakes up from its current fever dream and reunites, more or less.

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