The Queen of Versailles

  • Review Date: July 17, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Rich family faces financial crisis in teen-friendly docu.
  • Review Date: July 17, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie offers sobering lessons about the dangers of overspending, as well as the idea that money doesn't make you happy (though it can help you live comfortably). The need to value things besides material goods and wealth is clear.

Positive role models

While there's much about the Siegels that's grating -- including their obliviousness to true suffering -- Jackie in particular doesn't put on airs. She remains in touch with old friends and looks just as comfortable in a 20-room mansion as she is in a tiny one-bedroom house. 

Violence

Some bickering.

Sex

A married couple kisses. A married man flirts openly with younger women. Some sexual innuendoes.

Language

Language includes "ass" and "damn." 

Consumerism

The theme of excess runs through the entire film, and many labels are named-dropped and/or seen: Ferrero Rocher, iPhone, Risk, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Fox TV, McDonald's, Walmart, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking by adults.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Queen of Versailles is a thoroughly riveting but also disturbing documentary about a very wealthy family, the Siegels, and how they swing from one extreme (seemingly endless riches) to another (the national economic crisis threatens to bring their business to its knees). There are plenty of lessons for tweens and teens about the perils of overspending, why it's important to have realistic values regarding money, and how riches can't shield you from the harsh realities of life and business. Expect some mild swearing ("damn" and "ass"), and many displays of excess. The movie becomes deeply personal in the second half, so younger viewers may feel uncomfortable watching how a family relates to each other in times of crisis, but there's a lot to learn here.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

Meet David Siegel, a time-share billionaire who's building his version of Tara in Florida. The estate has 90,000 square feet of living space, a $250,000 dome, a sushi bar, baseball diamonds, and an observation deck for the Disney fireworks, among many other perks. Presiding over their household of eight children (including an adopted niece) and a large staff is Siegel's wife, Jackie, a former engineer-turned-beauty queen from modest means who's taken to her plush surroundings with gusto. She cares about her kids and her husband deeply, extravagantly. She also loves to shop; she doesn't want for anything. But then 2008 and its financial meltdown, fueled largely by bad mortgages, happens, and David's towering time-share heaven in Las Vegas is threatened with foreclosure. The company's seemingly endless source of revenue -- regular folks who want to go on vacations "like a Rockefeller" -- no longer have access to the mortgages that would fund their time-share dreams. Suddenly, the Siegels have to cut back.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It would be so easy to hate the Siegels: They spend more in one day than some families earn in a month; they obviously don't worry much about their carbon footprint, considering that they're building a 90,000-square foot mansion; and they're prone to making let-them-eat-cake statements that would make your jaw drop. (Faced with having to rent her own car for the first time, Jackie asks the clerk whether it comes with a driver.) But the beauty of THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is how we walk away from it feeling not hate, but humanity. Director Lauren Greenfield presents David and Jackie in three-dimensional clarity, eschewing caricature -- so easy and tempting given their outsized personas -- for complexity. And the Siegels are so interesting that you won't want to miss a single minute.

The Queen of Versailles hits the perfect documentary trifecta -- riveting subjects, perfect timing, and a story that starts as a single instrument but finishes as a full orchestra. Clearly, excess is at play with the Siegels. But so is the bizarro-world dream that sadly has become a reality: that we must aspire for more more more, preferably all the time. Still, it's hard to see Jackie merely as a cautionary tale. It's precisely when the economy turns to pot and David's business is frozen that she takes center stage, revealing how much in denial she is about financial realities and how much she truly cares about her family. She's a survivor, and, like the best of royalty, it's hard to take your eyes off her.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about money. What do the Siegels' habits and experiences teach us about fiscal responsibility? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding spending, saving, and other financial issues.

  • Do you find it easy to empathize with Jackie as her economic situation changes? Can you relate to her plight, despite her wealth and her lack of awareness? How does the movie make her a sympathetic character?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 20, 2012
DVD release date:November 13, 2012
Cast:David Siegel, Jackie Siegel
Director:Lauren Greenfield
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Documentary
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements and language

This review of The Queen of Versailles was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byAspi January 28, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Full of great lessons and very entertaining

This movie is best watched by the entire family with thoughts shared freely. Great lessons to learn on over spending, consumer traps and how to relate (NOT) to relate to each other as a family in times of crisis.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism

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