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"A FAMILY THING"
(1996) (Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Mild Moderate Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Minor Moderate Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A white farmer and a black cop meet and must come to terms with each other after finding that they had the same mother.
PLOT:
The story revolves around a white Arkansas farm equipment owner, Earl Pilcher (ROBERT DuVALL), who receives strange news after his mother's death. She leaves him a note saying that his real mother was a black woman impregnated by his white father. It turns out that his real mother died after giving birth -- but she did have an older (and black) boy, Raymond Lee Murdock (JAMES EARL JONES), now a Chicago cop in his sixties. Earl goes to Chicago to seek out his "real" family and must deal with his own racism, as well as staying with Raymond, his son Virgil (MICHAEL BEECH), and their blind, but straight to the point, Aunt T. (IRMA T. HALL).
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably not. Nothing about this will interest most kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some strong language, brief violence and a childbirth scene.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ROBERT DuVALL plays a farmer with some racist underlinings to his personality that accompany his stubborness.
  • JAMES EARL JONES plays a cop who has similar traits to his half brother.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Earl has a drink in a bar and later behaves as if heís drunk.
  • Virgil drinks a beer at a picnic.
  • Raymond admits he used to be an alcoholic.
  • Earl and Raymond take shots of Scotch at their motherís gravesite.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • After Earl is carjacked and beaten, a stream of blood pours from his nose and mouth and he has a bloody gash on his forehead.
  • A doctorís apron is bloody after delivering a baby.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • There are moderate racist attitudes from both sides throughout the movie.
  • Raymond admits he was a car thief when he was a teen.
  • The youths who steal Earl's truck and beat him obviously have bad attitudes.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • Earl drunkenly wanders through dimly lit, bad sections of town during a thunderstorm.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • A handgun is pointed at Earl as heís being carjacked.
  • We briefly see a war movie on TV with explosions and machine guns blazing.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Racists remarks, particularly the "n" word being used by both races.
  • Phrases: "Kiss my ass," and "Sorry ass."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is some minor tense music during a flashback scene of Earl being born.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 4 "f" words, 17 "s" words, 10 "ass" words, 14 damns, 6 hells, 6 S.O.B.'s and several "God damns" used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Weíre told that Earlís father forced himself onto another woman.
  • While throwing back taunts at teens who accost him, Earl says "I laid your mother too."
  • When asking where he could stay for $20/night, Earl is told "Some hooker place," to which he responds, "Thatíll do."
  • We see the naked backside and belly of a pregnant woman in bed.
  • SMOKING
  • Cigar smokers are briefly seen on downtown streets.
  • People in a bar are seen smoking.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Earl and other family members visit their dying mother. Sheís having convulsions, and the setting is tense. At the end of the scene she dies.
  • There is a funeral for Earlís mother.
  • Earl finds out that his late mother was not his natural mother, but that his father forced himself on another woman, who got pregnant and died after giving birth to Earl.
  • Raymondís son, Virgil, is separated from his wife and only gets to see his two daughters on the weekends.
  • Virgil gets upset and much yelling ensues when he finds out he has a white uncle.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • There is talk of Earlís father forcing himself on Raymondís mother years ago (ie. Rape and adultery).
  • Two way racism.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Four inner city teens run into the back of Earlís truck. They get out, hit him in the face and stomach, kick him on the ground, and then steal his wallet and truck.
  • We see a boxing match clip from "Rocky III" as well as a war movie on Raymondís TV.
  • Aunt T. slaps Virgil's face after he says "God damn."
  • Earl and Raymond get into an argument that turns into a wrestling fight (no punches).
  • A seemingly drunken Earl is forcibly thrown out of a bar.
  • When asked, Raymond says he did kill people in the Korean War.
  • Raymond tells Earl that he always wanted to kill Earlís daddy (due to the rape of his mother).



  • Reviewed March 31, 1996

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