Up Close and Personal

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Up Close and Personal Movie Poster Image
Glitz! Glamour! Love! TV news ethics?
  • PG-13
  • 1996
  • 124 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The lead characters pay at least some lip service to compassionate and well-informed journalism. Warren is an overconfident womanizer (pre-marital sex with Tally, post-divorce sex with Joanne). Sally doesn't seem able to do a good job without his controlling presence.


A prison riot, with vicious beatings shown at a distance or on fuzzy monitors, and the heroine threatened. Glimpses of dead bodies afterwards. Ditto for a South American shootout.


Bedroom scenes; a montage of lovemaking, but with little more explicitly shown than bare shoulders.


One F-word, "s--t" numerous times, and vulgar reference to female breasts.


Plugs for real-life network anchors and TV entertainment and trade magazines.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is sex between the two lead characters, one of whom is a domineering, twice-divorced man, the other a former beauty queen who fakes her journalistic credentials to get a job in TV. Despite the dangers of being too near an open mic, characters swear pretty frequently for a PG-13 movie. You'll find violence in a prison uprising and in battle zones, and there are subplots about authority figures -- governors, local politicos, even a White House -- that are corrupt and need to be exposed. A key character is killed along the way.

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What's the story?

Sallyanne Atwater (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a former beauty contestant from Nevada who becomes the personal assistant to hotshot Miami news producer Warren Justice (Robert Redford). Justice mentors his ambitious protégé, first as a weather girl, then as a field reporter. Sally has to call herself Tally, because that's how a misprint on the station's teleprompter introduced her. Warren still occasionally sees his ex-wife (Kate Nelligan), but he falls for Tally. They often clash and eventually Warren leaves the station when his pride is hurt. But when a story they're supposed to be working on together turns dangerous, Warren comes riding back like a white knight to rescue Tally.

Is it any good?

The good news: Up Close and Personal is a sumptuously old-school, glossy, larger-than-life romance that Hollywood does so well. The bad news: It's a sumptuously old-school, glossy, larger-than-life romance that Hollywood does so well -- meshed uncomfortably with portrayals of crusading TV news reporters and their coverage of riots, wars, and politics.

The two-faced script focuses more on Warren's romance with dream-girl Tally than news journalism, and it's the man who takes the lead in just about everything. Tally can't seem to make a right move without Warren's constant coaching and criticism. Yet some kids who get into the film's charming leads and whirlwind pace might be tempted towards journalism as a career.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages of journalistic substance over style, and Warren's boot-camp lessons in being a crusading reporter. Do his arrogant actions match his heroic words? Would he seem so brash and compelling if he were played by an actor far less handsome than Robert Redford? Does the news you watch follow his sterling example? You could also have kids read about the life of Jessica Savitch and determine if the lessons in that story are at all similar to the ones in this movie.

Movie details

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