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 Player (1992) is a dark, crime-drama thriller from acclaimed director Robert Altman. The plot involves a murder, which is shown without blood or gore. Otherwise there's very little violence. There's a strong sex scene that shows only close-ups of the faces with kissing, thrusting, and moaning. Other sexual content includes a few kisses, women's breasts shown several times, and a fully-nude woman and man. A main character frequently wears white, sheer tops without a bra. Strong language is frequent, especially "s--t," "f--k," and lots of variations of each. Negative role models and messages show the cutthroat world of the Hollywood studio system, which requires artistic and moral sacrifices in order to make money. It's a must-see for film buffs but is not for kids. Mature teens who are fans of film noir and crime dramas will have a lot to think about.
What's the story?
Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) is THE PLAYER, a Hollywood studio executive whose career may be slipping away thanks to an up-and-comer gunning for his job. And to make things worse, he's receiving increasingly threatening postcards from a disgruntled writer he brushed off in the past. Griffin tracks down the writer to try and confront him about the threats. The confrontation turns ugly, and Griffin soon finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation. Worse still, the postcards keep coming. Who has it out for Griffin, and will he find his own happy ending?
Is it any good?
This is the one with Robert Altman's famous eight-minute opening scene, a beautifully orchestrated, continuous tracking shot that perfectly sets up the rest of this thrilling noir crime drama. It’s the head of the snake devouring itself as The Player draws the viewer into an endless circle. The performances are great. The script is a rock solid, sly, and clever framework for Altman’s devilish digs at the Hollywood studio system.
It's a must-see for film buffs, who'll enjoy peeling away the layers of references, in jokes, Altman's masterful display of technique, to say nothing of the sheer fun of seeing so many cameos and so many terrific performances. But even if it didn't have all that, it also works as a taut, suspenseful crime drama in the great film noir tradition. Mature teens who can handle the nudity and strong language may not get all the in jokes, but they'll enjoy sinking their teeth into the world of movie-making while they're kept on the edge of their seats right to the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nudity and sex in The Player. Is it gratuitous? What does it add to the movie?
What about all the profanity? Is it realistic? Is it necessary?
Do you think The Player paints a realistic picture of how decisions are made about which movies get the green light? What's the difference between a studio picture and an independent film? Which do you tend to like better, and why?
- In theaters: April 3, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: July 16, 1997
- Cast: Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi
- Director: Robert Altman
- Studio: Fine Line Features
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Language and some sensuality
- Awards/Honors: Golden Globe
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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