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Parents' Guide to

Withnail & I

By Stefan Pape, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

British cult classic about two alcoholics; much profanity.

Movie R 1987 107 minutes
Withnail & I Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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This is a cult classic, the sort of movie you could recite over and over, and it has garnered this adoration and status for a reason; it's just brilliant cinema. The blend of comedy with pity and sadness is so expertly crafted, Withnail & I has some of the most iconic one-liners in British film history. Yet it is enriched by the profound sadness of the characters that inhabit this desolate landscape. Set in 1969, it's a damning social study of England with kitchen-sink realism.

The two central performances are just striking too, as both Grant and McGann bring so much vulnerability and nuance to these two hopeless alcoholics. The supporting cast more than do their bit, helped along by being so well-written by writer/director Bruce Robinson, who brings out hilarious turns by Griffiths as Uncle Monty and Ralph Brown as the drug-dealing Danny. It's worth noting that the film is dated in some regards, the discriminatory slurs in particular. But the movie excels in its now-notorious one-liners. Lines such as "we demand the finest wines known to humanity" and "we've gone on holiday by mistake" have become nearly as integral a part of British culture as a cup of tea.

Movie Details

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