A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dark comedy about a hit man features jokes about death, murder, and extreme violence. The main character's work entails shooting, throttling, and knifing victims, and a "war" between two gangster families leads to shoot-outs with loud weapons. The protagonist, who's an alcoholic, spends time in AA meetings, where discussions range from absurd to tragic to comic. Characters also smoke, drink, and use plenty of foul language. Luke Wilson co-stars, but this isn't a lighthearted movie.
What's the story?
After messing up on a mob-related killing, alcoholic hit man Frank Falenczyk (Ben Kingsley) is sent to San Francisco to dry out. Set up with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a day job at a funeral home, Frank grumps his way through his recovery until he meets Laurel (Téa Leoni). Trading sardonic observations as he cleans up her stepfather's corpse, they find they share a certain wry pessimism and begin dating. When he brings her along to an AA meeting and confesses his profession, Laurel is briefly startled, as are Frank's sponsor, Tom (Luke Wilson), and the other attendees. But the group is supportive and decides to uphold AA's pledge of anonymity. Frank wonders about his place in the world. He's always considered himself a stoic man, good at what he does and not given to thinking about it, but he begins to believe he has options. But a lowlife named Dave (Bill Pullman), who's assigned to keep his eye on Frank's progress, tries to pull him back into the criminal life.
Is it any good?
You Kill Me slips in and out of generic expectations -- part romantic comedy, part mob thriller. Frank begins seeing that the way he and the guys do business isn't as effective as it used to be. When an associate observes, "It's like we don't exist anymore," Frank confirms with certainty: "We don't." It's no surprise when he eventually makes a right choice; despite the bloody violence of several scenes, the film's tone is sharply comic and optimistic. But Kingsley, at once intimidating and empathetic, is always a revelation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how movies get viewers to feel empathy for characters like Frank who commit crimes for a living. Would you feel the same way about a real-life hit man? What's the difference? Is it OK to make light of killing and violence? Families can also discuss Frank's various afflictions. How might his work make him depressed? How do Frank and Laurel end up being the film's "moral center," compared to Frank's associates, who are more clearly mean, greedy, and vengeful?
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