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Vice

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Vice Movie Poster Image
Irreverent, mature biopic about VP Dick Cheney.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 132 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

No positive role models. The characters are depicted as evil opportunists who are out to spread the politics of deception and opposition.

Violence

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.

Sex

Brief glimpse of naked male bottom, nonsexual. Married couple in bed together.

Language

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).

Consumerism
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byharrisb1964 January 1, 2019

A good mind is a terrible thing to waste

All I can say is halfway through this movie I was wondering when it would be over. I would have no problem with my 12 year old seeing this movie, but to be hone... Continue reading
Adult Written byJim24 January 18, 2019
A very good film, but many will be turned off by the intense politics of it. The content boils down to real footage of terrorist victims, which can be hard to w... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 21, 2018

Really good.

Kids my age - who are mature enough - could probably watch this movie. Not too much of everything.
Teen, 13 years old Written byDoctorWhovian January 6, 2019

Grimly hilarious, hard-hitting, disturbing, and unbelievably funny

Vice is one of the best films of 2018. Not only does it pull off being dark, dirty, and disturbing, but it blends it perfectly with knee-slappingly hilarious li... Continue reading

What's the story?

In VICE, young Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) is a hard drinker and a bar brawler; he gets thrown out of Yale and winds up in jail for drunk driving. His girlfriend, Lynne (Amy Adams), gives him an ultimatum, and Cheney agrees to straighten out. He becomes a congressional intern, starts working with Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), and holds several positions in the White House, eventually losing his job when Jimmy Carter is elected president. Years later, Cheney is approached by George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) to be Bush's running mate. Cheney reluctantly agrees, but only after he convinces Bush to let him take on some of the larger, "duller" responsibilities of the office of the president. When the 9/11 attacks occur, Cheney senses an opportunity to turn his position into one of enormous power, forever changing the way politics are played.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Vice's use of violence. Why do you think McKay decided to include flashes of war, shooting, explosions, torture, etc.? What purpose do these images serve? How do they make you feel?

  • How is drinking depicted? Is it glamorized? What are the consequences?

  • How does the movie view Cheney? Would you say it's a biased or unbiased portrait? What's the difference?

  • What did you learn from the movie? How much do you suppose is based on truth? Did it inspire you to do additional research?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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