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"CITY HALL"
(1996) (John Cusack, Al Pacino) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
After the shooting of a young boy, the Deputy Mayor of New York begins investigating why the prisoner responsible was out on parole and soon finds corruption everywhere he looks.
PLOT:
Kevin Calhoun (JOHN CUSACK) is the idealistic right-hand man to New York city Mayor John Pappas (AL PACINO). Calhoun is the brains behind the operation while Pappas is the charismatic front man. Things begin to get sticky when one day, James Bone, a six-year-old is killed on the street during a shootout between Eddie Santos, an undercover cop, and Tino Zapatti, a small time drug dealer. The problem is that Tino was the son of mafioso Paul Zapatti (TONY FRANCIOSA) and was out on parole when he shouldn't have been. Calhoun discovers that something is fishy about the parole papers and begins to suspect strange goings on between the Mafia, the judge on the original case, Judge Walter Stern (MARTIN LANDAU), and Frank Anselmo (DANNY AIELLO), head of the South Brooklyn Democratic Club, and "last of the club house bosses." Assisting Calhoun is Mary Beth Cogan (BRIDGET FONDA), an attorney representing the dead cop who's upset that he's been turned into the scapegoat of the case. As Calhoun digs deeper and deeper he uncovers more corruption than he thought or wished he'd find.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
No. None of the actors are draws to kids and the subject matter won't interest them.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and some violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JOHN CUSACK plays the idealistic "go getter" of the Mayor's office who is persistent in finding out the truth.
  • AL PACINO plays a charismatic mayor, who although seemingly good hearted, is corrupt.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    Although the performances are solid, the plot, while trying to create a suspenseful conspiracy story, is rather ho-hum. You'll enjoy watching the actors but won't particularly be intrigued by the story that doesn't offer any surprises or twists usually found in such conspiracy films. You'll watch it and days later won't remember much of it. We give it just a four out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    There are several violent scenes where several people are killed and there is one suicide. Profanity is heavy, but there's little drinking or smoking and no nudity or sex. The major bad thing in this film is the corruption of the characters from the Mafia guys all the way to the Mayor. They'll do anything to swing a deal, or in this case, cover their butts for a major wrongdoing that led to a child's death. As always, read through the details, but I doubt your kids will want to see this one.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People are seen drinking wine at a dinner.
  • Pappas has brandy after dinner.
  • Calhoun brings drinks over for him and Pappas at a play.
  • It's stated that Tino was a drug dealer and had sold drugs to kids.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Blood runs down from the bullet hole in the back of the little boy. Moments later his father carries the limp, bloody body.
  • Vinny's pale face is seen when his body is pulled from the water.
  • A probation officer is shot in a phone booth and is a little bloody.
  • A bloody car window is seen from a distance and is the result of Frank committing suicide.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Many people are killed (by order of Zapatti) to try to keep this case from exposing all of those involved.
  • Several people, including Paul Zapatti and Frank, agree to set up the dead cop as the scapegoat for this tragedy. Zapatti gives Frank forty thousand dollars to place in Santos' cottage home to make it look like he was on the take.
  • Pappas attends the little boy's funeral, and while seeming somewhat sincere, makes it his bully pulpit to deliver an anti-crime message.
  • Calhoun wants to put off getting the deposition of a parole officer so that he can dig deeper into what's really going on (and erase any doubts that Pappas is involved in any way). Cogan, on the other hand, wants it right away so that the Santos family can get their pension and peace of mind.
  • The Judge admits that all it took was fifty thousand dollars for him to become a judge.
  • Paul Zapatti implies to Frank that he should kill himself to make it "easy for himself and for his family" after Frank has become the scapegoat of the case (even though they're old friends).
  • It turns out Pappas was involved in all of this corruption as well.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • Calhoun and Cogan go to meet Vinny down on the docks. It's dark and they don't know what to expect.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Used by Santos and Tino to shoot each other and one shot hits a little boy, killing him.
  • Handgun: Held by Tino's cousin Vinny when he first meets Calhoun and Cogan to give them some information.
  • It's stated that Tino had used a handgun during a homicide several years earlier.
  • Handgun: Used by an unknown assailant to kill a probation officer who was about to talk.
  • Handgun: Used by Frank to commit suicide.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrase: "Piss."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Several scenes are accompanied by mild suspenseful music.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 16 "f" words, 6 "s" words, 4 hells, 3 craps, 1 "ass" word, 1 slang term for male genitals ("pr*ck"), 1 SOB, and 3 uses of "God damn," 2 of "For God's sake," and 1 each of "God" and "Oh God," as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • Pappas occasionally smokes a cigar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • In a hospital room Mrs. Santos watches as her husband is declared dead. Pappas is there and consolers her.
  • Pappas visits the grieving father of the dead boy at his house.
  • Pappas attends the funeral of the little boy and sees many angry, grieving family members.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Organized crime and its influence on politicians and judges.
  • Suicide.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Eddie walks up to Tino who then pulls his gun and shoots Eddie several times. Eddie manages to get off several shots that hit Tino who falls backwards firing his gun, and a little boy is hit and killed.
  • Tino's cousin Vinny is found floating behind his boat, dead from the impact of a blunt object.
  • A probation officer is shot and killed in a phone booth while talking to Calhoun on the phone.
  • Frank commits suicide in his car with a gunshot to the head.



  • Reviewed August 5, 1996

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