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"THE SPITFIRE GRILL"
(1996) (Alison Elliot, Ellen Burstyn) (PG-13)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young woman, recenlty released from prison, attempts a new start to her life in a small town in Maine.
PLOT:
Percy Talbot (ALISON ELIOT) is released from prison and goes to the small town of Gilead, Maine where she hopes to have a new start at life. She gets a job at the Spitfire Grill working for the cantankerous owner, Hannah Ferguson (ELLEN BURSTYN), but draws more stares than greetings from the locals including Nahum (WILL PATTON), Hannah's nephew and town snoop. Eventually Percy is accepted by some of the locals such as Nahum's wife Shelby (MARCIA GAY HARDEN), who helps out in the grill after Hannah injures her hip. An idea to raffle off the grill makes Percy more popular, but that and her interaction with "Johnny B," a homeless man, increases Nahum's suspicions of her and leads to a climatic finale.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might, but the lack of popular stars and the story's slow pace will keep most kids away.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ALISON ELIOT plays the former con who was imprisoned for manslaughter (for killing her stepfather after he repeatedly beat and raped her), but who wants to start anew in this small town.
  • ELLEN BURSTYN plays the cantankerous owner of the grill who turns out to have a warm heart under her hardened exterior.
  • WILL PATTON plays the local snoop and pessimist who doesn't give Percy a chance and judges her without knowing her at all.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    This small film is far more entertaining than most of the recent big budget Hollywood "blockbusters" that we've been subjected to. With original, three-dimensional characters and superb performances all around (especially from Eliot with her perfect Appalachian accent) these people seem real and will stick with you longer than the cardboard cut outs we're used to seeing. While the mystery elements that lead us through the story aren't that difficult to figure out, the plot does keep the audience interested throughout the movie. We give this enjoyable, fresh film a 7 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The only objectionable things here are discussions of events that occurred before the movie begins. The biggest one is Percy's recollection of having been repeatedly raped and beaten by her stepfather. The years of such abuse culminated in her getting pregnant and when he wouldn't let her be, she ended up killing him (and being charged with manslaughter). Other than that, read through the listings (there isn't much there as very few objectionable events occur) before deciding whether this movie is appropriate for your children.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People are seen drinking at a neighboring town's bar and a man brings out two beers for Percy and himself.
  • Percy, Hannah and Shelby appear to be getting drunk while drinking from a jug containing an unknown liquid.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Hannah has a small bloody gash on her head after falling from a chair.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The townspeople (especially Nahum) don't give Percy a chance at the new start in life she wants. They are judgmental and not friendly to her (but some warm up as the story moves on).
  • Nahum isn't respectful of his wife and tells her that the idea to raffle off the grill could not have been hers because she isn't smart enough to think up such an idea.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • The early scenes of the strange homeless man in the woods may be a bit scary to younger kids (because we don't know who the man is and whether he's dangerous or not).
  • Percy tries to cross a river to warn "Johnny B" about the men coming after him, but is swept downstream into the rapids where she ends up going across a steep water fall and is later found dead.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • The sheriff and other men are seen carrying guns as they search for the person who has taken a large sum of raffle money.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Being inconsiderate to newcomers.
  • Phrase: "Shut up."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is just some minor tense music in one scene.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 "s" words, 6 damns, 3 hells, 1 ass, and 2 uses of "Good God" and 1 use of "For God's Sake" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • Percy is seen smoking cigarettes quite a few times.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We learn that Hannah lost her son in the Vietnam war and that her husband was never the same after that and died and few years later.
  • We learn that Percy's stepfather repeatedly raped and beat her and finally got her pregnant.
  • Nahum and Shelby argue several times regarding Percy.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Accepting someone new while not dwelling on their past.
  • We learn that Percy's stepfather repeatedly raped and beat her for many years and that one day she finally had enough and killed him (and was imprisoned for manslaughter).
  • Percy dies from her violent trip down the rapids of a river.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Percy tells a story about an Indian woman and her baby who encounter two sailors who believe that Indian babies can swim from birth. So they sink her canoe and the baby drowns.
  • Hannah slaps Percy on the face after getting mad at her.
  • We learn that Percy's stepfather repeatedly raped and beat her for many years and that one day she finally had enough and killed him (and was imprisoned for manslaughter).
  • Nahum points his gun at "Johnny B" but doesn't shoot as the homeless man rushes off and tries to save Percy.
  • Percy dies from her violent trip down the rapids of a river.



  • Reviewed August 31, 1996

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