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"AMERICAN BUFFALO"
(1996) (Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Dram: A pawn shop owner and his friend plan on stealing back a valuable coin from a buyer who paid less than it was worth.
PLOT:
Donny Dubrow (DENNIS FRANZ) is a pawn shop owner in a seedy section of town. Business is slow and Donny's upset because he's just sold a buffalo head nickel to a buyer who paid much less than it was worth. He's got his young gofer, Bobby (SEAN NELSON), scouting out the man, watching for when he'll leave town so that Bobby can break into the man's home to steal the coin back. Donny's friend, Teach (DUSTIN HOFFMAN), however, doesn't think it's a good idea as he believes that Bobby's too young and inexperienced to pull such a heist. Teach suggests he help out and that while they're at it, they should clean the guy out. So they take Bobby off the job, but then begin to get suspicious when he brings in and tries to sell a similar nickel. Soon, no one knows whom to believe until the suspicions come to a boil in the final violent ending.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Not unless they're fans of Hoffman or Franz.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • There are only the three characters in the entire film and none of them are good role models.
  • DENNIS FRANZ wants to break into a guy's house just because he feels he was ripped off (he was, but it was his own fault).
  • DUSTIN HOFFMAN is an angry, bitter man who wants to clean out the man's possessions and he uses extreme profanity throughout the movie.
  • SEAN NELSON Nelson plays the young accomplice who wants to pull off the heist and who's implied to be a junkie, but we never see any evidence of that other than his constant need for cash.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    Based on David Mamet's play, this one should have been left on stage. While it's a somewhat interesting character study, it's just way too slow and doesn't provide the characters with any great dialogue. And that's what this needs since this is essentially a one locale film -- it all takes place in or just outside the pawnshop. The characters are too slow to pick up on the few events that occur during the story (such as when Bobby brings in another buffalo head nickel -- Hello? Wouldn't that seem suspicious to you? Our two characters don't seem to think so until later in the story). The pace is too slow, the dialogue is uninspired and you'll be shifting in your seat a lot hoping that maybe they'll finally go to the guy's house just to get them out of the pawn shop. But alas, it doesn't happen. We give this one just a 3 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The main objectionable thing here is the profanity which is quite extreme. There's one violent scene where Teach hits Bobby on the head with a telephone after he thinks he's betrayed them. Other than that, the characters are really just slime-ball type people, but it's doubtful your kids will want to see this one anyway. There are no acting draws and the story's way to slow to hold any child's interest. But as always, read through our scene descriptions before allowing your kids to watch this.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Teach, Donny and others drink beer while playing poker.
  • It's implied that Bobby is a junkie (from comments by Teach), but there are no visible signs of this other than his incessant need for cash and his "head in the clouds" behavior.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Bobby bleeds from his ear after Teach slams a telephone against his head.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Teach has both attitudes about everything and is very bitter all of the time. He also refers to two women he doesn't like as "dykes."
  • Donny wants to break into a customer's home because he's bitter about selling a coin to him for less than it was worth.
  • Teach mentions that a poker partner of theirs cheated in their most recent game by creating a diversion and then changing cards when no one was looking.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • Teach and Donny become suspicious of Bobby and start interrogating him. The tension comes from worrying about what the two might do to the boy. Eventually this culminates with Teach smashing a telephone against Bobby's head.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Teach has a handgun for "safety reasons" to be used in their upcoming break-in. It's never used.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Nigger," "Spic," "Piss," "Bitch," "Shut up," "Twerp," and "Dyke."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's some minor tense music that's nearly more strange than it is tense.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 132 "f" words, 44 "s" words, 12 "ass" words, 5 uses of "c*cksucker," 2 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" and "p" words), 2 slang terms for female genitals (the "c" word), 1 crap, and 5 uses each of "God damn" and "For Christ's sake," and 1 use of "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Donny says that a woman they're talking about has "a nice ass."
  • SMOKING
  • Teach and Donny smoke throughout the entire movie.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Why the guys talk a lot, but never do anything (because it's essentially a play).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Teach nearly yanks the handset from a telephone booth.
  • The guys get word that a friend of theirs was robbed and that his jaw was broken.
  • Teach slams a telephone against Bobby's head, knocking him down and causing blood to flow from his ear.
  • Teach smashes up Donny's shop after learning that their break-in has been called off.
  • Donny chases Teach around the shop and they almost come to blows but stop when they hear Bobby telling them something.



  • Reviewed September 9, 1996

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