Parents' Guide to

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Exceptional, intense, complex crime drama resonates.

Movie R 2017 115 minutes
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 24 parent reviews

age 13+

This complex, beautiful and masterful drama has heavy violence, language and themes

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) follows Mildred, raging with hate as the case of her daughters rape and murder remains unsolved. In response, she purchases three billboards describing the murder and outing the police for the neglect of it, beginning a story of redemption, violence, forgiveness and faith. VIOLENCE: SEVERE Speratic scenes of strong and heavy violence. A man throws a bag of his blood against a wall splattering his blood, and in another scene he accidentally coughs his own blood on a woman’s face. Both of these scenes are due to his cancer. The film revolves around a mother solving the mystery of her daughters death. We hear (graphically) of her being raped while dying and burned alive. On numerous occasions this is described with sexual language. A dentist, who is against his patient, gives her medicine via needle but attempts to immediately drill her teeth, in self defense she grabs his drill and drills a hole through his finger nail, some blood is shown squirting out and this is shown up-close. We (very briefly) see the burned corpse of a victim while a cop flips through crime scene pictures. The charred body is shown in these pictures totally only for a few seconds. A man is shown throwing a sack over his head and shooting himself. Blood is shown briefly spraying out of the side of the sack, and his corpse is shown with blood covering the sack and the ground beneath. In the most disturbingly violent scene in the film, a man, filled with rage, smashes the window to an office and walks up the stairs holding a gun. He turns the corner and suddenly bashes a man in the face with his pistol twice, on the first guy the mans face is shown splattered with blood, and on the second he is hit onto the ground when the attacker spits on him. While a woman in the background violently screams in terror, the beaten man is picked up and thrown out of a high window, he rolls off the roof and hits the ground (heard) before the attacker hits the screaming woman on the face saying “shut up”. When the attacker walks back down the stairs, the beaten man is shown crawling on the street with graphic and bloody wounds covering his face and arms and blood splattered on his clothing, the attacker then taunts him and punches him in the face one more time before walking away. An extremely violent and disturbing scene. Two high schoolers are kicked in the crotch, not violent. A man sits in a burning building (mildly comedic) until the flames burst through and almost hit him. He runs through the flames and his head and body is shown on fire as he falls and begins crawling on the sidewalk, another man runs out and puts the fire out but bloody burns are shown on his face and body throughout the rest of the film. A man reaches over and scratches another man on the face, the man gets up and he and his friend proceed to violently punch him around 9 times until he begins spitting blood and his face is bloody before he is kicked in the face and knocked out. Infrequent, yet strong and heavy violence, and unlike most movies where people are shown being shot and killed, nobody is shown being murdered onscreen in this movie and the only onscreen death is that of suicide, however the violence is shown with lasting effects and is usually disturbing. LANGUAGE: SEVERE Around 84 uses of “f*ck”, 4 uses of “c*nt”, around 3 uses of “c*ck” (2 used sexually), 30+ uses of “godd*mn”, use of “sh*t”, “n*gger”, “f*ggot”, “cracker”, “a**hole”, “b*tch”, “retard”, “beaner”, “ass”, “damn” and “hell” Strong language throughout the film. SEXUAL CONTENT: MILD Numerous references to a rape and murder which is (several times) described crudely as “f*cking” and at one point a man says he wishes he could “f*ck” her more after she died, a woman comments on the size of a man’s “c*ck”, in a letter a man says he loved being “inside” a woman and him being on top of her, some sexual references, nothing to graphic otherwise. DRUG CONTENT: MILD Smoking, drinking, a man is shown drunk, brief verbal references to marijuana possession and drunk driving. Extremely mild. OVERALL: 13+ for strong violence, language throughout and sexual references

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing
age 10+

Outside looking in often best perspective.

I think we are blessed to see this film. As Americans and as seen by someone from another country. This vision of the American reality, from racism, to seismic, to billboards: which most countries don't allow. So it's ebbing and it's miss o ri. Title and all the way through this is a masterpiece, like Shakespeare describing American life. And not only rural life. It's a beautiful story. Even the characters we see as most horrible we realize are ignorant. The brilliance of this movie, is that if the viewer is paying attention to the story and the character arcs. They will feel compassion for every person

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (24):
Kids say (26):

So sharply written that it cuts, the third movie from award-winning playwright Martin McDonagh is a dramedy that starts with cleverness and wit, then opens up into something truthfully human. Aptly titled, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, features superb, lyrical dialogue so good that every single cast member, no matter how little screen time, gives a superb performance. McDormand in particular hasn't been this good since her Oscar-winning turn in Fargo. Yet Three Billboards never seems too clever for its own good. It's a stronger effort than McDonagh's In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths; beneath the sparkling verbiage are genuine, complex emotions.

There's hope here -- and love -- but also hate, rage, and grief, just like life. They're are all mixed up in a most bracing way. At the same time, the movie tackles things like murder, cancer, and racism, but never in a way that might seem obvious or pandering. It's not a movie about suspense or solutions; things are deliberately messy in this world, even if McDonagh presents them in a pin-neat manner. Blessed with pitch-perfect cinematography and production design, the movie offers many great scenes and no bad ones. But nothing quite prepares you for the final scene, a thoughtful, human moment that should resonate for some time.

Movie Details

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