[Screen It]

 

"SLEEPERS"
(1996) (Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Four men plot their revenge on prison guards who beat and sodomized them as kids.
PLOT:
Shakes (JOE PERRINO), Michael (BRAD RENFRO), John (GEOFF WIGDOR) and Tommy (JONATHAN TUCKER) are care-free friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen, known for its close knit community that takes care of its own. For the boys, a former thug turned priest, Father Bobby (ROBERT DeNIRO), and local crime lord King Benny (VITTORIO GASSMAN) watch over them. Sensing their protection, the boys revel in pulling pranks on people. But a stunt where they steal a hot dog cart that ends up falling down a set of stairs and seriously injures a man changes their lives forever. Charged with assault and reckless endangerment, they're sentenced to the Wilkinson Home for boys. There they must endure the sadistic and pedophilic guards, specifically Sean Nokes (KEVIN BACON), who enjoys inflicting pain and suffering on them. The boys are subjected to beatings and gang rapes and vow to never let anyone know what's happened to them. Years later, however, all of that changes as the now adult John (RON ELDARD) and Tommy (BILLY CRUDUP), two murderous gang members, happen across Nokes and murder him. After they've been captured, Michael (BRAD PITT), now the assistant DA, decides to prosecute them knowing that he'll throw the case to get his friends off. Shakes (JASON PATRIC), a fledgling reporter, decides to help Michael and begins working on witnesses and others, including their childhood friend, Carol (MINNIE DRIVER), to help the two defendants. And King Benny brings in a washed up defense attorney, Danny Snyder (DUSTIN HOFFMAN), to defend them. As the case proceeds, Michael and Shakes do all they can to revenge the atrocities the four endured as kids.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be drawn to the story or the large and talented cast, but younger kids won't want to see this.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, graphic violence and two scenes of strong sexual content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JASON PATRIC plays the man who sets the plan (to have his boyhood friends found innocent) into motion, no matter the moral or legal problems that might be created.
  • BRAD PITT plays the assistant DA who plans to throws the case he's prosecuting against his boyhood friends.
  • RON ELDARD and BILLY CRUDUP play two murderous gang members.
  • ROBERT DeNIRO plays a priest who must weigh his morals against his loyalty to the four friends and choses the latter.
  • KEVIN BACON plays a sadistic guard who finds pleasure in beating and raping boys at the correctional facility.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    While this film has a tremendous acting ensemble, it's way too long (150 minutes) and its subject matter is rather unsavory, both of which will probably lead to negative audience reaction. While the plot creates a great deal of dramatic conflict, many viewers will probably be unsettled by the film's brutality and the characters' collective efforts to seek revenge no matter what the cost. Since there are so many characters, no one really dominates the movie and you'll be left wishing that DeNiro, Hoffman and Pitt had more screen time. The way it is, one gets just a partial taste of what these characters could have offered had their roles been strengthened. With a paring down of length and some characters, this would have been a much better movie. As it is, we give it a 6 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    This is a very brutal and sadistic film that definitely isn't for most kids. The four friends (as kids) are subjected to unthinkable acts by the guards that include beatings, sodomy and gang rapes. While the sexual violence isn't graphically seen, it's heavily implied and the boys' screams can be heard. There's also the revenge factor that ranges from two instances of murder in cold blood, to tampering with a legal case to scare off witnesses, and to getting a priest to lie on the stand all done to get the guilty men off. Profanity is extreme and there's brief nudity, and nearly everyone smokes (this being a period piece set in the 60's through the 80's). We strongly suggest you read all of the category listings before considering allowing your children to see this film.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A drug dealer is seen hanging from a street lamp after the "neighborhood" has dealt with his dealing heroin to the kids on the street.
  • It's said that Father Bobby is as comfortable behind a bar as he is in a pulpit.
  • It's noted that both John and Tommy, as adults, are alcoholics and drug users. No drug use is seen, but mild drinking of beer, wine and whiskey is.
  • Shakes and Carol have beer.
  • Father Bobby says he needs a drink after hearing what went on at Wilkinson, and Carol joins him.
  • Defense lawyer Danny Snyder is a self admitted alcoholic who also states that he has a drug problem.
  • There is a moderate amount of drinking of wine and beer, the latter of which is occasionally seen being consumed in brown paper bags on the street.
  • The brother of a boy murdered in Wilkinson is reported to have made it big in the lucrative drug trade.
  • A witness to Nokes' murder is cross examined during the trial. Snyder drills her about how much she had to drink and it's discovered that she had one martini and four glasses of wine in a six hour period.
  • The four friends and Carol have beer, wine and whiskey as they celebrate their victory.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Michael's nose and lip are bloody after getting into a fight with another boy and their blood is seen on the three other friends' shirts.
  • Shakes is very bruised and bloody after having been beaten by the guards and thrown into solitary confinement.
  • Tommy and John happen across Nokes in a restaurant and shoot him many times. Blood spurts out and their final shot to his head splatters a large amount of blood onto the wall.
  • Rizzo's older and now adult brother, Edward G. Robinson, enacts revenge upon a guard that helped kill Rizzo years before. The guard's face is all bloody and one of his eyes appears to be missing or severely damaged.
  • Separate black and white photos of John and Tommy dead are seen. They've obviously met violent deaths and are rather bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Shakes and John sneak into a confessional and hear a young woman come in and state that not only has she slept with married men, but that she's pregnant. When asked who the father is, she replies that it could be any number of people.
  • The kids call a store owner "Fatman" that describes his size and doesn't seem to bother him.
  • Shakes makes "runs" for King Benny which includes delivering money to the police as bribes.
  • Shakes steals a hot dog from a street vendor making the vendor chase him thus allowing the other boys to raid his cart. They then decide to steal the cart and that act sets the main plot into motion.
  • In the Wilkinson Home for Boys cafeteria, another boy upsets Michael's lunch tray, spilling his food on the floor. Michael slugs the kid and the two get into a fight and the other kids join in. Nokes then enters, stops the fight and orders Michael to eat the food from the floor. When he doesn't, Nokes hits him on the head with his night stick and then on the legs. He then forces the four friends to eat the food from the floor.
  • Nokes calls a black guard "boy" and later calls Rizzo "sambo."
  • Shakes and Michael conspire to do everything to have their two friends found innocent. Michael (the assistant DA) plans to throw the case and Shakes works on getting the witnesses to change their minds. He also convinces Father Bobby to lie on the stand about being with the two men on the night of the murder. Benny gets alcoholic and washed up lawyer Danny Snyder to be their front man in the trial who only has to read pre-written questions authored by others.
  • Carol asks the group, "Don't you have to go and shoot somebody?" as a joke. She also remains as John's girlfriend even after learning that he's murdered someone.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • The many scenes where the boys are beaten and/or sodomized by the guards will be unsettling to most viewers.
  • As adults, Tommy and John are known to be gang members and killers. They happen across Nokes in a restaurant and terrorize him for several moments before they begin to shoot him. They wound him at first by shooting him in the leg and arm and then finally kill him with shots to the chest and head.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun: Used by Benny during a flashback scene to shoot a man in each of his legs for an ealier altercation they had.
  • Handgun: Used by a man to shoot (heard, not seen) two guys who were trying to rob Shakes (as a kid).
  • Handguns: Used by Tommy and John to wound and then kill Nokes with many shots to the body and finally his head.
  • Handguns: Used by a drug lord's men to kill one of the former guards.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Kids are seen playing in an open fire hydrant in the summer.
  • Shakes steals a hot dog from a street vendor hoping that he'll chase him, thus allowing the other boys to raid the cart.
  • Phrases: "Punk," "Shut up," "Scum bag," "Bitch," "Little gimp," "Limp d*ck," "Bastard," and "You've got a real hard on for..."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is a moderate amount of tense music in several scenes during the movie.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 53 "f" words (2 used sexually, 4 with prefix "mother"), 19 "s" words, 5 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" and "p" words), 4 hells, 3 "ass" words, 1 crap and 3 uses of "Jesus," 2 uses each of "God damn" and "Christ," and 1 use each of "Oh my God," "Jesus Christ," and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • It's said that Michael's the most sexually experienced of the boys, "meaning that he's kissed a girl on more than one occasion."
  • Shakes and John sneak into a confessional and hear a young woman come in and state that not only has she slept with married men, but that she's pregnant. When asked who the father is, she replies that it could be any number of people.
  • The four boys sneak peeks into a dressing room and briefly see bare breasts, and other women in their underwear.
  • Nokes makes Shakes strip his clothes and Shakes is seen standing in his underwear before removing it.
  • Nokes and the other guard take the four friends down into the steam tunnels of the building. When Michael asks what they want, Nokes replies, "A blow job," and the boys are then forced to perform that act on the guards (not seen, but heard).
  • Though never really seen, it's implied (and also mentioned) that the boys had to endure repeated rapes at the hands of the guards. There are several quick flashback shots, but again nothing is seen.
  • Michael mentions that one of the former guards still likes sex with young boys.
  • SMOKING
  • There is a lot of smoking throughout the movie. Father Bobby, Nokes, and Michael (as an adult), amoung others, all smoke many times.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Shakes hears his father say to his mother, "I've buried one wife, I can bury another."
  • It's said that "domestic violence was a cottage industry in Hell's Kitchen. But divorce was nearly unheard of and for a marriage to end, someone usually had to die."
  • Shakes often hears his parents arguing and/or fighting and once sees his father remove his belt and beat his wife with it. She isn't seen, but he and his violent actions are.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • It's stated several times that revenge is "sweet" or "sweet tasting."
  • A legless girl is seen who lost her legs to cancer.
  • Shakes (Lorenzo is his real name) is called that because he likes to read, and it's short for Shakespeare.
  • What the guards are doing to the boys that makes them scream (sodomy and rape).
  • VIOLENCE
  • A drug dealer is seen hanging from a street lamp after the "neighborhood" has dealt with his dealing heroin to the kids on the street.
  • It's said that when he was younger, King Benny was kicked down a flight of stairs and had his front teeth knocked out. We then see, in flashback, Benny finding his assailant in a bathtub and shooting him in each leg.
  • Shakes often hears his parents arguing and/or fighting and once sees his father remove his belt and beat his wife with it. She isn't seen, but he and his violent actions are.
  • Shakes his accosted by two men while making a run for Benny. They try to take his package, but an older man stops them by pulling out his gun. As Shakes runs away, two gun shots are heard (implying that the older man shot the other two).
  • John is seen in a hospital with a punctured lung, a result of being "slapped" by his mother's boyfriend. Father Bobby then finds the man and tells him if he tries that again, he won't need a doctor, he'll need a priest to pray over his body.
  • Shakes steals a hot dog from a street vendor making the vendor chase him thus allowing the other boys to raid his cart. They then decide to steal the cart and end up losing control of it at the top of a flight of stairs down into the subway. It careens down the stairs and ends up crushing a man into a wall, injuring, but not killing him.
  • Shakes' father busts their place up after hearing that Shakes is being sent away.
  • In the Wilkinson Home for Boys cafeteria, another boy upsets Michael's lunch tray, spilling his food on the floor. Michael slugs the kid and the two get into a fight and the other kids join in. Michael gets a bloody nose and his friends all have blood on their shirts. Nokes then enters, stops the fight and orders Michael to eat the food from the floor. When he doesn't, Nokes hits him with his night stick on the head and then on the legs. He then forces the four friends to eat the food from the floor.
  • Nokes and the other guard take the four friends down into the steam tunnels of the building. When Michael asks what they want, Nokes replies, "A blow job," and the boys are then forced to perform that act on the guards (not seen, but heard) after being beaten.
  • The guards repeatedly beat and rape the boys (seen in flashbacks and quick shots) through their stay at Wilkinson and Shakes must endure being raped with a nightstick used by the guards as they ridicule him about his religion (Catholic).
  • Father Bobby says that he's got a friend who's serving time for killing three men fifteen years earlier.
  • There is a great deal of vengeful impact during a guards/inmates football game at Wilkinson. The friends have recruited a black player, Rizzo, to help them beat the guards. Afterwards, Shakes is seen in solitary confinement, bruised and bloody after the guards have beat him in retaliation for their loss. Later they learn that Rizzo was beaten to death by the guards for the same reason.
  • It's said that as adults, John and Tommy are gang members and killers. John is noted for killing a man for stepping ahead of him in a movie line and Tommy is noted for killing his first victim at the age of seventeen.
  • Tommy and John happen across Nokes in a restaurant and terrorize him for several moments before they begin to shoot him. They wound him at first by shooting him in the leg and arm and then finally kill him with shots to the chest and head. It's a very bloody scene with blood spurting and running down the wall.
  • Synder asks Benny what happens if he loses the case. Benny replies, "You go down for the dirt nap" (dead and buried).
  • Rizzo's older and now adult brother, Edward G. Robinson, enacts revenge upon a guard that helped kill Rizzo years before. The guard is seen bloody and with an eye damaged or missing and then is shot dead by several men.
  • Carol asks the group, "Don't you have to go and shoot somebody?" as a joke.
  • Separate black and white photos of John and Tommy dead are seen. They've obviously met violent deaths and are rather bloody.



  • Reviewed October 15, 1996

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [Collateral Beauty] [La La Land] [Manchester By The Sea] [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.