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Thelma and Louise
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thelma & Louise, which includes a graphic attempted rape, the violent on-camera shooting death of the rapist, further gunplay, suicide, lusty consensual sexual activity between two adults, non-stop strong language ("f--k," etc.), and frequent alcohol consumption and drunkenness is for mature viewers only. In addition, the film’s adult theme involves female oppression at the hands of men and their struggle -- at great cost -- for respect, independence, and free will.
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What's the story?
The titular heroes (or anti-heroes) of this movie, THELMA & LOUISE are two Arkansas women looking to get away from the men in their lives for a weekend of fun. Before they reach their destination, they stop off for a drink, but, when Thelma (Geena Davis) is almost raped, Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots the would-be rapist. They then travel across the southwestern United States attempting to avert the law. Thelma and Louise take some rather strong actions against their aggressors throughout their journey, but their plight is not entirely their own. Rather, it's expressive of the oppression that many women experience in society. Thelma's husband doesn't listen to her and orders her around like a child; Louise's boyfriend is unwilling to commit and often drunk. Even a male hitchhiker with whom Thelma becomes involved ultimately leaves her after stealing her money. The one redeeming male character may be the sympathetic detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) who tries to convince the women to surrender to the law, but his decent efforts are drowned out by the bombast of masculine aggression surrounding the women by the end of the film.
Is it any good?
Chock-full of great performances and dramatic scenes, this is one truly amazing film that crystallizes a moment in feminist social history for all time. Thelma & Louise made a huge splash when it was originally released in 1991, and it was as polarizing as it was popular. It's is an updated, feminized version of an outlaw road movie. Still quite potent today, the film's no-holds-barred approach to confronting the subservient position thrust upon females in society hasn't been matched in the time since its release. Note that scenes involving rape, the glorification of suicide, and destruction of property makes this film inappropriate for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if they think Thelma & Louise's actions were justified given their treatment by men. Why were they reluctant to turn themselves in? What does this movie say about gender politics?
Are Thelma and Louise positive role models or not?
How did the violence in the film affect you? What about the final scene? Was it exhilarating, depressing, something else?
- In theaters: May 24, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: September 7, 2004
- Cast: Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Susan Sarandon
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 129 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong language, and for some violence and sensuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.