A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Few positive messages here, but the movie demonstrates how terrible things can happen right under our noses -- and that sometimes our own defense mechanisms don't let us see them.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models. The characters are depicted as evil opportunists who are out to spread the politics of deception and opposition.
Violence & Scariness
Bar fighting. Man with twisted, broken leg. Car crash. Brief images (flashes) of war, torture, bombing, shooting, kidnapping. References to 9/11. Discussions about countries being bombed. Images of heart surgery.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief glimpse of naked male bottom, nonsexual. Married couple in bed together.
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Very strong language, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "a--hole," "hell," "crap," "piss," "hard-on," "jerked off," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At first, the main character is a hard drinker who gets very drunk, drives drunk, and is hung over. But the character eventually stops drinking for good. Scenes of social drinking. Smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vice is an irreverent biopic from writer/director Adam McKay (The Big Short) about Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who served under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. Expect frequent strong language, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," and more. Heart surgery is shown briefly, and there are flashes of violence, including images of war, bombings, shooting, and torture. There's also fighting, a car crash, and an injury. A married couple is shown in bed together (not at all racy), and there's a brief, nonsexual glimpse of a naked male bottom. The main character starts out with a drinking problem; he gets drunk, drives drunk, and has a hangover. But he later stops drinking and never returns to it. Other characters drink socially; some smoke. Like The Big Short, this is an incendiary movie that may attract the attention of politically minded older teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A comedy veteran , writer/director Adam McKay brings a strong irreverence and some quirky humor to this biopic, yet it can't disguise its sheer outrage; its laughs come through openmouthed dismay. McKay uses a variety of unexpected tools in Vice, including a surprising narrator choice and offbeat little inserts and alternate realities (the movie has a funny false ending halfway through). An opening crawl claims that the movie is a true story, then says that since Cheney was so secretive, they just did the best they could. These touches help get the story down more easily, and certainly the tone often teeters toward satirical, which feels almost like vindication. But some viewers will still feel helplessly furious.
As with his previous drama, The Big Short, McKay sets aside the clean, colorful look of his comedies (the Anchorman movies, etc.) in favor of a washed-out, edgy look, with frequent use of hand-held cameras. The enormous canvas requires many helping hands, and viewers will find amazing actors in even the smallest roles. In bigger parts, Adams, Carell, and Rockwell do admirable work, but their roles are sidelined and not as fully fleshed out as the central one. Playing Cheney, Bale more than disappears. He hides; it's not a particularly personal performance, but it's skillful and highly effective. All in all, Vice feels like a much-needed, cleansing primal scream at politics.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.