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"KISS THE GIRLS"
(1997) (Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Suspense/Thriller: A forensic psychologist and an escaped kidnap victim race to find the kidnapper's other victims, who include the psychologist's niece, before time runs out.
PLOT:
Washington, D.C. forensic psychologist Alex Cross (MORGAN FREEMAN) learns that his niece Naomi (GINA RAVERA), has disappeared from college in Durham, North Carolina. Cross goes there and learns that his niece isn't the only missing woman and that two other victims have already been found murdered. The local police, including detectives Nick Ruskin (CARY ELWES) and Davey Sikes (ALEX McARTHUR) are baffled, as is F.B.I. agent Kyle Craig (JAY O. SANDERS). They believe that one of Naomi's professors, Wick Sachs (WILLIAM CONVERSE-ROBERTS), a known womanizer, is the prime suspect, but Cross doesn't believe that. This is further compounded when Cross meets Dr. Kate Mctiernan (ASHLEY JUDD), a woman who escaped from the suspect's lair. She wants to help Cross find "Casanova," as the man calls himself, and their pursuit leads them across the country and back as they race against time to find his hidden lair and rescue the other women.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're familiar with the novel, or are fans of the thriller genre or of someone in the cast, they might, but preteens will probably have little interest in the film.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For terror, violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MORGAN FREEMAN plays a dedicated professional who's good at his job. He does curse some (in the heat of the moment) and does shoot a few bad guys.
  • ASHLEY JUDD plays a doctor who's abducted, escapes, and then works with Cross to find the suspect and save the women.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
    Helmed by director Gary Fleder (the little seen "Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead"), this is a moderately successful adaption of the James Patterson novel and features yet another demented serial killer who plays mind games with the detective, or in this case, forensic psychologist, who's tracking him. While the novel wasn't the most original piece of work, it was a passable piece of "entertainment." This adaption, however, unfortunately jettisons the deeper characterizations found in the novel for a more straightforward thriller plot. Of course most movies based on novels do the same, but here we're left with just a skeleton of what was present in the novel along with some unanswered questions about events and characters. Often times the film makers who are working from the novel are so entrenched in the story that they forget that a great many of us aren't as familiar with the work and thus can't fill in the blanks quite so easily. Here, in particular, the movie drops most of the close relationship between Cross and Naomi and we're left just to think pure familial bonds motivate his actions.

    The movie also fails to create anything more than a two-dimensional villain. Sure his anonymity, whispering voice, and photo/newspaper article wall collection are supposed to make us shudder in our seats, but Casanova comes off as nothing more than a boogeyman in the shadows. While that does have its inherent scare quality, "monsters" are created when we really learn who the evil characters are and what truly motivates them (compare Hannibal Lecter from "Silence of the Lambs" to Jason in the "Friday the 13th" series). If they wanted to keep Casanova the way he is, the film could have played more on his anonymous identity. By doing so, Fleder could have teased the characters in the film -- and the audience -- by never letting on as to whom the killer is. That plot device is mentioned and used just once in the film, but it should have been deployed throughout so that we -- and the cast -- would always be on edge guessing whether it's the guy next door, the mailman, or even a woman. The way it's presented here, and the final revealing, don't offer many surprises and while we're supposed to be shocked by Casanova's true identity at the end of the film, it doesn't come off that way. Thus, a great deal of the film's "fun" (for a thriller) is wasted away.

    The film also ruins what could have been another strong lead female character (something not often seen in many films) by turning Kate (Ashley Judd) into the obligatory tag along woman. Once she escapes from her imprisonment, she's used just as an attractive wall-dressing or as the female in distress device. What's more troubling about that regarding the story is that here's a woman who's proficient at kick boxing and can inflict some serious damage. And she does just that to the villain, but then instantly turns into the cowering, have to flee woman, who's then pursued by the killer. While that dramatically works -- after all, what fun would it be if she beat up the bad guy the first time around and the story was over -- it betrays what she had been built up to. Having consistently strong female characters isn't a bad thing -- think of Jodie Foster in "Silence of the Lambs" or Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" films -- and it's a shame the film makers had to strip Judd's character of what it could, and should have been.

    There are also some logistical problems including Kate's miraculously healing face (from heavily bruised and bloodied to near-perfect in just a few days) and the sun that decides to quickly set once Cross finds Casanova's lair (it must have read that the script and known that the scene would play better in the dark). On a positive note, Morgan Freeman is perfectly cast for his role as Cross and the calming demeanor he often brings to many of his characters suits this one (a forensic psychologist) well. Despite the stripping of her character, Judd is competent in her role as are most of the supporting cast members. The film does have its share of tense and frightening moments and should partially please fans of the suspense and thriller genres. We found it to be a shell-like, paint by the numbers film that could have been so much better had more thought been put into its production. We give "Kiss the Girls" a 4.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    This film contains many frightening and/or disturbing scenes revolving around the serial killer/kidnaper that may be too intense for some viewers and definitely for most preteens. Some of this includes violence toward women, and there are several attack/chase scenes and several people are shot and killed (with a moderate amount of bloodiness). We see a brief suicide attempt that Cross must stop, and we also see some brief nudity and hear some sexually related dialogue. Profanity is extreme with more than 15 "f" words and an assortment of others. Since some kids will want to see this film, we suggest that you look through the material first to determine whether it's appropriate or not for them.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Cross finds some liquor in a glass at a crime scene, that's said to have fueled a dead husband's abuse of his wife.
  • People drink in a bar.
  • Kate pours herself a glass of wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A dead man seen on the floor is bloody.
  • We see a dead woman's bloated, discolored hands.
  • A young girl's head is bloody in an emergency room.
  • Kate's arm is rather bloody after crashing through a large aquarium.
  • Kate's a little bruised and bloody after making her escape.
  • We see several pictures/drawings that show bloody scratches on people's bodies.
  • Kate and the suspect are bloody after slicing each other with knives (including a graphic knife cutting to Kate's arm).
  • Blood squirts out from a man when he's shot.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously the killers/abductors have extreme cases of both, as they abduct and then hold women in their "cells."
  • The local police have a little bit of both toward Cross as they make him wait several hours before meeting with him.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Being the sort of film that it is, there's a general spooky/suspenseful atmosphere around much of it. Similarly, scenes that take place inside Casanova's lair have the same and many viewers may find them to be tense.
  • Cross shows up at a crime scene where a husband has been murdered and the wife (a victim of domestic abuse) has a gun in her mouth, ready to commit suicide. He then has to talk her from doing that.
  • Casanova walks a woman through the woods. She's upset and we don't know what's going to happen next.
  • A stranger makes his way through Kate's house at night. She finally hears something and slowly makes her way through the house while we know he's lurking about somewhere nearby.
  • Kate hits Casanova and then tries to make her escape although she's been drugged. She makes it out through the woods and then jumps from a cliff to avoid being captured again.
  • Cross and others hear a woman scream from a suspect's house and race to help her. The suspect shoots an officer and flees in his truck that he then smashes into Kate's car. Cross then chases after the man who hits Cross with his truck.
  • A suspect pulls out a knife and puts it to Naomi's neck while fondling her breasts.
  • Cross finds Casanova's lair and slowly makes his way inside.
  • Kate slices the suspect with a knife and they then get into a fight where punches and kicks are thrown. After slamming her against a wall, he prepares to rape her but she hits him again. He then slices open her arm with a knife and prepares to ignite a gas leak and Cross tries to persuade Casanova not to do that.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Knives: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Stun gun: Used to render Kate unconscious.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Screwing me around" (non sexual).
  • A woman threatens to kill herself using a gun in her mouth.
  • The villains abduct and then hold women against their wills.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A man suddenly grabs Kate in the darkness of her house.
  • A man suddenly shoots at Cross.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There is a heavy amount of suspenseful music throughout the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • A scene at a basketball court may contain several uses of the "f" word, but they aren't clearly heard.
  • Otherwise, there are at least 16 "f" words (3 used sexually), 4 "s" words, 2 S.O.B.'s, 2 asses, 2 hells, and 4 uses of "Oh my God," 2 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use of "Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A woman's bare buttocks might briefly be seen during the opening sequence where many images are flashed on the screen.
  • Kate's friend comments about their kick boxing practice and then sitting in a sauna by saying, "This is a sorry substitute for sex."
  • Cross receives a postcard that shows a classic drawing of a nude, reclining woman whose breasts can be seen.
  • We briefly see one of the victim's bare breasts.
  • We briefly see some photos on a wall that show a woman's bare butt.
  • A suspect, known for his swinger ways, tells Cross that he's had sex (the "f" word) with several hundred women. He then taunts Cross about his fling with Naomi and that he always kept his place cold so as to make her nipples erect.
  • A suspect pulls out a knife and puts it to Naomi's neck while fondling her breasts.
  • Casanova tells Kate that many things can be found out about a person by going through their trash. By finding used condoms, he says someone could tell how many times a week she has sex and whether it's with the same guy or different guys.
  • SMOKING
  • A police official smokes a pipe.
  • Ruskin smokes as do other cops.
  • People smoke in a bar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Cross' family, and Cross himself, must deal with Naomi having been kidnaped.
  • A family must deal with their young daughter being in a coma after a motorcycle accident.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Kidnappers and serial killings.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Cross shows up at a crime scene where a husband has been murdered and the wife (a victim of domestic abuse) has a gun in her mouth, ready to commit suicide.
  • It's reported that Casanova has already killed some of his victims and Cross reports to a crime scene where another has been found tied to a tree. It's also reported that Casanova's "an enthusiastic rapist."
  • Kate and others spar in a kick boxing practice and several punches and kicks are thrown.
  • Kate hits an intruder and then runs from him but stumbles down her steps and crashes through a large aquarium, badly cutting herself.
  • Some guys on a basketball court get into a pushing match but are quickly separated.
  • Kate attacks Casanova so that she can escape.
  • Cross and others hear a woman scream from a suspect's house and race to help her. The suspect shoots an officer and flees in his truck that he then smashes into Kate's car. Cross then chases after the man who hits Cross with his truck.
  • It's mentioned that cut off feet have been found in a suspect's house.
  • Cross grabs a suspect and slams him against a wall after he tells of his sexual encounter with Naomi.
  • A suspect pulls out a knife and puts it to Naomi's neck while fondling her breasts.
  • Casanova shoots at his friend, who's another serial killer.
  • Cross shoots several people.
  • Kate slices the suspect with a knife and they then get into a fight where punches and kicks are thrown. After slamming her against a wall, he prepares to rape her but she hits him again. He then slices open her arm with a knife and prepares to ignite a gas leak.



  • Reviewed September 27, 1997

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