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"THE TRIGGER EFFECT"
(1996) (Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A married couple and their friend must contend with the effects of a widespread power outage.
PLOT:
Matt (KYLE MACLACHLAN) and his wife, Annie (ELISABETH SHUE), are typical suburban residents whose biggest worry is their daughter having an ear infection. That is, until the power goes out. Everywhere. Telephones, air conditioners, computers and anything electrically based won't work, and panic and confusion begin to fill the streets. Matt has to resort to desperate measures just to get medicine for his sick child. When a friend of theirs, Joe (DERMOT MULRONEY), comes to visit they decide it might not be a bad idea to buy a gun. So they do, but in a late night drinking session, Annie throws it into the pool. After an intruder breaks into their home and is killed out on the street, the three decide to leave the city for the safter pastures of the country. Along the way they have a violent encounter with a desperate man and then must do what they can to help Joe who was wounded in that encounter.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably not. None of the stars are big draws and the long drama scenes will bore kids to tears.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and some violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KYLE MACLACHLAN plays the mild mannered husband who must take violent actions to help and/or save his family and friend.
  • ELISABETH SHUE plays the concerned mother with adulterous feelings toward Joe.
  • DERMOT MULRONEY plays the friend who's invited to stay with them and ends up having to stab an intruder in self defense.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    What seemed like an interesting premise turns out to be a rather drawn out and often boring take on what would happen if there was no more electrical power. The cause of this is never explained (beyond rumors) and maybe that's the film makers intent -- to make us feel as unsure as do the characters. But when the power is back on at the end of the movie we feel cheated. Sure it's an analysis of what people will do when faced with a bizarre situation, but we've seen that done before and in better ways in old TV programs such as "The Twilight Zone." The performances are okay and there are several rather suspenseful scenes, but beyond that this film feels more like a stage play than a movie. You'll see similar type productions in made for TV movies. We give this one just a 4 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Profanity and some violence are the two main objectionable items here. In two different scenes men are shot -- one dies from that and a later stab wound, while the other lives. There's some drinking and smoking and sex is limited to the husband and wife making out on a chair and later, the wife and friend sharing a kiss that's quickly broken off. The two violent scenes are rather suspenseful and may scare younger kids. As always, read through the listings first.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • The three main characters and many supporting characters are seen at different times drinking beer, wine, or straight liquor. In one scene, Annie is rather drunk.
  • BLOOD/ GORE
  • Some coyotes are seen tearing at a dead animal.
  • Matt bleeds some from a gun shot wound to the shoulder.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A girl cuts in front of a man waiting in line at a movie theater and then doesn't apologize about it.
  • Two men talk during a movie and then get angry and belligerent toward Matt and Annie who ask them to be quiet.
  • Matt, desperate to get medicine for his daughter's ear infection (and refused by the pharmacist due to the computers being down) steals the medicine from the store and then rushes out.
  • A gun store owner has inflated his prices due to the panic that has overtaken the community as well as allowing him to make a quick buck.
  • The neighbor who shot the intruder (see "Violence"), even though he knew the guy didn't have a gun, goes and places a handgun in the dead man's hand before the police arrive. He then lies to the police about what really happened, and Matt, under pressure not to turn in "the good guy," also lies to the police.
  • FRIGHTENING/TENSE SCENES
  • Matt, desperate to get medicine for his daughter's ear infection (and refused by the pharmacist due to the computers being down) goes behind the counter to look for the medicine. Meanwhile the pharmacist is right around the corner and nearly discovers him. Mat then steals the medicine from the store and rushes out.
  • There is a "someone broke into the house" scene in Matt and Annie's home that is rather tense. See "Violence" for details.
  • The threesome encounters a dangerous looking stranger on the road which turns into a tense situation. See "Violence" for details.
  • Matt, desperate to get help for his wounded friend, breaks into an old farmhouse where he knows there are keys to the car outside. He also knows the man inside has a gun and so he carefully sneaks through the house. He spots the keys in the empty living room and rushes to grab them when the man steps out and aims his gun at Matt. Matt then aims his shotgun at the man and both try to fire their weapons, but the man's is empty and Matt's shotgun shells are defective. They race to reload their weapons and again aim them at each other when the man's young daughter walks out and breaks the tension. They eventually agree not to shoot each other.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Matt and Joe go to a gun shop to purchase a weapon for self defense. They end up buying a twelve-gauge shotgun. Out in the parking lot, Matt jokingly points the shotgun at Joe and pulls the trigger.
  • Switchblade: Brandished by the intruder in Matt and Annie's home.
  • Rifle: Used by a neighbor to shoot the intruder who was in Matt and Annie's home.
  • Butcher knife: Used by Joe to stab the intruder after he grabs him.
  • Shotgun: Fired several times (to check its condition) after retrieving it from the pool where Annie threw it.
  • Shotgun/Handgun: Used in the road side scene (see "Violence" for details) where Joe ends up getting shot in the shoulder by a stranger who thought Joe was going to shoot him with the shotgun.
  • Shotgun/Handgun: Used in an old farmhouse (see "Frightening/Tense Scenes" for details).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Out in a gun store's parking lot, Matt jokingly points a shotgun (they just purchased that is empty) at Joe and pulls the trigger.
  • Phrases: "Bitch," and "Sucks."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The wounded intruder (see "Violence" for full scene details) who is thought to be dead, suddenly grabs Joe as he comes over to check on him.
  • Matt checks out an abandoned car on the highway and a man suddenly sits up in the back seat, scaring Matt.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Several of the scenes have rather tense and suspenseful music in them.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 28 "f" words (1 used sexually and 2 with the prefix "mother"), 13 "s" words, 7 hells, 4 "ass" words, 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 1 SOB, 1 damn, 6 uses each of "Oh God" and "Jesus Christ," 4 uses of "God" and "God damn," 3 uses of "Oh my God," and 1 use of "Swear to God," as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Annie, feeling a bit romantic toward Matt, fondles her own breast (she's wearing a bra), but nothing comes of this.
  • Matt and Annie passionately make out on a chair, she on top of him, his hand on her butt, but nothing comes of this either.
  • Annie and Joe have some sort of attraction for each other which comes to fruition when they embrace and then kiss while Matt sleeps. She then quickly pulls away and walks out.
  • SMOKING
  • Joe smokes quite a bit and Annie is occasionally seen puffing on a cigarette. Some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Just Matt and Annie being concerned about their daughter with an ear infection.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • What would really happen if the power went out everywhere for a long time, or forever.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A pharmacist, upset over Matt's repeated requests, tells him, "Get your skinny little butt out of my store or I'll punch your face out through the back of your head."
  • People are seen pushing each other on the streets as confusion and panic begins to build after the power outage.
  • Joe wakes up Matt and Annie to tell them there's an intruder in the house. Joe carries a large kitchen knife while Matt grabs a baseball bat. They sneak out and find the man rummaging through the kitchen. Joe goes outside to circle around the house while Matt moves in closer but ends up making a noise. The intruder walks up and pulls out a switchblade, but seeing nothing, returns to his robbing. The guy then makes his way outside where Joe and Matt confront him and Joe sets off his car alarm. A neighbor comes running out with his rifle and shoots the intruder who falls to the street. Joe goes to check on the guy who then grabs and struggles with him. Joe then stabs the guy in the chest with a knife, killing him.
  • The three encounter a dangerous looking man out on the road. He claims he just wants a ride from them, but they notice he has a gun and say that their truck is full. Joe then decides to go to the truck and get the shotgun while Matt distracts him. But when Joe walks up and aims the shotgun at the man, he pulls out his gun and shoots Joe in the shoulder and then shoots at Matt who tries to pick up the shotgun. It turns out all the man really wanted was a ride and that he used his gun in self defense when he thought Joe was going to shoot him. Upset with what's happened, he takes their truck, leaving them abandoned out on the highway.



  • Reviewed August 23, 1996

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