[Screen It]


(1997) (Al Pacino, Johnny Depp) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild Minor Mild None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: An undercover FBI agent gets too friendly with the mobster he's using to infiltrate the mob.
FBI agent Joe Pistone, a.k.a. Donnie Brasco (JOHNNY DEPP), goes undercover to infiltrate the New York-based mob. He's taken under the wings of mob veteran Lefty Ruggiero (AL PACINO), a luckless member who's been repeatedly passed over for advancement in the "family." A new member, Sonny (MICHAEL MADSEN), has jumped to the front of the line and is willing to do anything to continue his climb up the power ladder. As Donnie is seduced by the mob lifestyle, his identities begin to blur and his relationship with wife Maggie (ANNE HECHE) and their daughters begins to crumble. He then finds himself torn between his estranged family and his job and commitment to his mentor, Lefty.
If they're fans of gangster movies or of any of the cast, including Depp who's a teen heart throb, they probably will.
For some strong graphic violence, pervasive strong language and brief nudity and sexuality.
  • JOHNNY DEPP plays an undercover agent who becomes seduced by the power and corruption of the mob lifestyle, while allowing his family relationships to falter. While he doesn't commit any horrendous crimes (other than beating up some people to act like one of the mob), he does allow some to happen so as not to blow his cover.
  • AL PACINO plays a mob veteran who, among his other criminal actions, kills several people. Therefore, he's not a good role model.


    OUR TAKE: 8.5 out of 10
    This is an impressive movie with equally great performances from every cast member. The stand outs, of course, are Pacino and Depp. Pacino continues to amaze us, and this time he creates a character who's not in control of his destiny, and that self-realization has eaten away at his very core. The fact that he wants out of the mob, but knows that he'll never survive leaving and wouldn't know what else to do anyway, creates a fine layer of tragic poignancy that only makes his character that much richer and true. Pacino delivers little nuances here and there that define his character and show that if he hadn't fallen in with the wrong crowd decades ago, he might have turned out to be an okay guy. Depp is also impressive as his slow seduction into the "dark side" comes off as realistic and totally believable. As his co-star has already done, Depp is building a strong reputation as a quality actor who can deliver tremendous and varied performances. When we heard about this mob movie, we wondered how it would compare to the other classic films of that genre, and whether it would be any different. The answer is that it easily rates with the greatest of those films ("Godfather," "Goodfellas," etc...), but also stands out for taking a different approach that sets it apart from them. The fact that it's based on a true story makes this film that much more remarkable. While it's not for the squeamish or the young, this is a terrific film that we give an 8.5 out of 10 to.
    As with most other mob dramas, this film is filled with criminal activity, extreme profanity, and brutal violence. The mob lifestyle seduces Depp's character, but other than for a few scenes, it's not as glorified here as it has been in other movies. There's one brief sexual scene involving a married couple (with no nudity), and we briefly see bare-breasted women in another. True to its genre, this film contains brutal beatings and killings and more than 160 "f" words. We don't think this is appropriate for kids, except perhaps for the most mature of teens, and we strongly suggest that you examine the content before allowing your children to see this film.

  • Various members of the mob, including Lefty and Donnie, drink beer or cocktails in several scenes.
  • Other people drink in bars and other locations.
  • Lefty admits that his son is a junkie, and he visits him in a hospital after an overdose (no drug use is seen).
  • A mob member purchases a large amount of cocaine, but it's never seen being used.
  • On TV, a cheetah is seen tearing at the flesh of a freshly killed gazelle.
  • A waiter is extremely bloody after a mob beating.
  • Three mob members are gunned down and a great deal of blood splatters and pours from their bodies.
  • Later, Donnie is forced to help cut those bodies into smaller pieces, and he's seen sawing through a very bloody leg with a knife.
  • Obviously the actions of the mob show that they have plenty of both attitudes.
  • The mob lifestyle seduces Donnie and soon he appears to pick it over his family relationships (although part of that is his job).
  • Lefty tries to break open the sawed off top of a parking meter to get to the money that's inside.
  • Donnie fakes having a bad attitude toward Japanese people in one scene so that his true identity is not revealed.
  • One of Maggie's young daughters calls her "bitch" during a tense family moment.
  • A Florida sheriff calls Donnie a "New York guinea."
  • Donnie smacks his wife after she accuses him of becoming like his new mafia family.
  • There are few scenes where we worry that Lefty has, or will, figure out who/what Donnie really is.
  • Some viewers might find scenes listed under "Violence" as being tense.
  • Handguns/Shotguns: Used to threaten, injure, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Handgun: Held by Lefty as he begins to question Donnie's real identity, but it's never used other than as an implied threat.
  • Phrases: "Pissing," "Balls" and "Nuts" (testicles), "Shut up," "Bitch" (said by a girl toward her mother), "Faggots," and "Screw."
  • Lefty tries to break open the sawed off top of a parking meter to get to the money that's inside.
  • The mob lifestyle seduces Donnie and soon he appears to pick it over his family relationships (although part of that is his job).
  • The sudden sound of gunshots as one scene cuts to another may make some viewers jump.
  • A few scenes have mildly suspenseful music in them.
  • None.
  • 165 "f" words (4 used with the prefix "mother," 1 used sexually), 16 "s" words, 11 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck," "pr*ck," "p*cker," "c*ck" (2 seen written), "c*cksucker"), 1 slang term for sex ("screw"), 5 "ass" words, 3 hells, 2 S.O.B.'s, 4 uses each of "God damn" and "Jesus Christ," 2 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Oh God," "Christ," "Jesus," and "For Christ's sake" as exclamations.
  • Donnie and Maggie passionately kiss on the inside steps of their home. Her shirt is removed (she's seen in her bra) and there is some clothed sexual movement and erotic sounds. It's implied that they then have sex.
  • We briefly see two topless women (one in a hot tub, the other out) during a party on a boat.
  • During a fight Maggie tells Donnie, "You and your other faggots can go screw each other."
  • Nearly all of the mob members smoke throughout the movie, including Lefty.
  • Some FBI surveillance agents smoke.
  • Donnie and Maggie fight about his long absences from home, and his daughters give him the silent treatment after missing a day with them. It eventually gets so bad that Maggie changes the phone number without telling him. They do see a marriage counselor, but that doesn't help and their problems peak when he strikes her for a comment she makes.
  • Lefty is upset that his son is a junkie and more so when he visits him in the hospital after an overdose that nearly killed him.
  • The mafia and undercover agents.
  • The historical accuracy of this true story.
  • Balancing career demands with family needs.
  • Lefty slaps a jewelry dealer on the head. Donnie then punches and kicks the man repeatedly for selling Lefty fake jewelry.
  • Lefty admits to being involved with twenty-six killings during his time with the mob.
  • Some mob members beat up a truck driver and then steal his rig.
  • Some mob members beat up another man who Sonny prepares to shoot, but Lefty intervenes. Yet as they walk away, Sonny turns and shoots the man several times.
  • After a Japanese waiter insists that Donnie remove his shoes in his restaurant and Donnie refuses, the other mob members take the waiter into the bathroom. They then repeatedly punch and kick him, with one member finally smashing a metal trash can onto him. By the end, the waiter is extremely bloody.
  • Sonny punches another mob member in the face.
  • Donnie throws his tape recorder against a wall, shattering it.
  • Donnie punches a U.S. attorney, who recognizes him, to prevent him from blowing Donnie's cover.
  • A Florida sheriff hits Donnie in the gut with the butt of his rifle, and then he and others proceed to tear up the mob's bar/casino (flipping over tables, breaking glasses, etc...).
  • An order is sent out to find a snitch inside the mob and to "cut off his pr*ck and stick it in his mouth."
  • Donnie warns another agent, who called him by his real name, that he'll slit his throat if he does it again.
  • Several mob members, including Lefty, shoot three other mob members with shotguns and handguns, but the three don't die from the first shots. Lefty has to hit the largest guy in the back with a hammer/pick and more shots are fired to ensure that the other guys are dead. Lefty then shoots one of his own associates, whom he believes is a snitch, twice in the head. Later, Donnie is given a knife to help the others cut the bodies into smaller pieces to dispose of them.
  • Donnie smacks his wife after she accuses him of becoming like his new mafia family.

  • Reviewed February 25, 1997

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