A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that True Memoirs of an International Assassin, a Netflix original movie, is a comedy vehicle for Kevin James as Sam Larson, an "Everyman" hero. In movie terms, audiences are supposed to relate to this ordinary fellow who finds himself caught up in an extraordinary adventure. Filled with exaggerated violence, gunplay, fistfights, crashing cars, stabbings, explosions, characters dangling from great heights, rioting, abductions/captivity, and several point-blank, head-shot kills, Sam Larson is out of his element, tragically unprepared for the scrapes in which he finds himself, and must rise to superhero status to extricate himself from a situation totally out of his control. Though the intent is comic throughout, the violence is played as real with the bloody aftermath of gunshots used to heighten the action. The leading female protagonist is highly competent, strong, and brave; however, other women appear in seductive or skimpy clothing and are used as eye candy. A villain wears a Speedo-style bathing suit for an extended sequence. Occasional language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and "goddamn," and there is one barely audible use of "f--k." Expect some alcohol use throughout.
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What's the story?
Sam Larson (Kevin James) is a wannabe at the opening of TRUE MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL ASSASSIN. Stuck in a dead-end bank job, he's committed to being a serious novelist with an unflappable spy called Mason Carter, as his protagonist and as Sam's alter ego. Sam's a lucky writer, as well: One of his dear friends is Amos (Ron Rifkin), a former consultant to the Israeli Mossad, who fills him in on the remarkable life of a man known only as "The Ghost," one of the Mossad's most lauded ex-operatives. Enter Kylie Applebaum (Kelen Coleman), an online publisher and the only one willing to take a chance on Sam's book. To Sam's utter disbelief and dread, Kylie markets the novel as nonfiction. To the world, Sam the loser is now Sam the assassin, aka "The Ghost." Hired against his will to kill a South American leader, as well as a vicious drug dealer, Sam's alter ego takes flight. The mayhem begins.
Is it any good?
Some funny moments, a literal mustache-twirling Andy Garcia, and Kevin James' innocent nebbish character who's in over his head make this Netflix original movie watchable ... barely. There are no surprises here, not even a mini-twist near the film's end. Forgoing nuance or wit, True Memoirs of an International Assassin treats the audience to the usual assortment of baddies (including the relentless appearance of a Speedo-clad Andrew Howard chewing the scenery) and bumbling law enforcement types, the larger-than-life sexy "spy-ess," and the over-the-top, silly, but often deadly violence. In this genre, the adage "less is more" simply does not apply. If there is to be one assassination target, why not two? Or three? If one character dies with a knife in the chest, how funny will it be in multiples? This film is only so-so for Kevin James fans who like mindless entertainment coupled with some spurting blood.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why "Everyman" adventure movies like True Memoirs of an International Assassin are so popular. How is Sam Larson different from an expected movie hero, both physically and mentally, at the beginning of this movie? What traits make Kevin James right for this role?
Think about what propelled Sam to overcome his ordinariness and behave heroically. Who was he trying to save? Do you agree with the idea that sometimes our better selves appear when we're concerned about others rather than ourselves? Give an example of this concept from an event in your life.
Why do you think comic movies like this one so often portray government officials or law enforcement officers as dim-witted and/or laughable? How do those portrayals help establish the hero's strength, effectiveness, and smarts?
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