[Screen It]


(1999) (Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Mild Extreme Mild Moderate
Mild None Moderate None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama/Black comedy: Having killed her husband, a flamboyant woman pursues her dreams of becoming a Hollywood actress while her young nephew encounters racism in the deep South.
In the summer of 1965, Lucille (MELANIE GRIFFITH), a flamboyant and possibly eccentric 34-year-old woman, has just killed and decapitated Chester, her abusive husband of thirteen years. Wishing to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress, she drops off her seven young kids with her mother and heads off to the west coast, making her 13-year-old nephew and confidant, Peejoe (LUCAS BLACK), promise not to tell anyone where she's going.

Due to the influx of children in the home, Peejoe and his brother Wiley (DAVID SPECK) are sent off to live with their aunt Earlene (CATHY MORIARTY) and uncle Dove (DAVID MORSE), the later of whom runs the small Alabama town's funeral home. There, they see the civil rights movement in action, as a black teenager, Taylor Jackson (LOUIS MILLER), ignites the fuse on a racial powder keg by demanding to be allowed to swim in a public pool.

When they're refused admittance, Jackson and his buddies stage a sit-in, causing the pool managers to call Sheriff John Doggett (MEAT LOAF) and his deputies to the scene. Pandemonium breaks out, and in the process Doggett catches and yanks Jackson from a fence, sending him crashing to his death below on the hard concrete, with Peejoe being the only white witness to this act.

Soon Dove and Taylor's father, Nehemiah (JOHN BEASLEY) try to figure out how to remove Doggett from his seat of power, but worry that Peejoe might receive the brunt of rising racial tension in the town. As this occurs and with Doggett pledging to send her to the electric chair once caught, Lucille, after some more criminal activity and a winning stint in Las Vegas, makes it to Hollywood.

There, with Chester's head (voice of BRENT BRISCOE) still in tow and verbally tormenting her, she meets an agent, Harry Hall (ROBERT WAGNER). He takes her under his wing and gets her a TV gig, inspiring some jealousy from movie actress Joan Blake (ELIZABETH PERKINS). As her star rises, suspicions mount about what she's carrying in her hatbox, while at the same time the conflict between Doggett and Dove and Peejoe continues back in the deep South.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
For some violence, thematic material, language and a scene of sensuality.
  • MELANIE GRIFFITH plays a flamboyant and aspiring actress who's just killed her husband and is carrying his severed head around in a bag with her. She also robs a barkeep at gunpoint and cusses and smokes some.
  • LUCAS BLACK plays her nephew who gets drawn into supporting the local civil rights movement.
  • DAVID MORSE plays his uncle, the town's funeral director, who tries to protect his murderous sister while getting the sheriff thrown out of office.
  • MEAT LOAF plays the racist and intimidating sheriff who's responsible for "accidentally" killing several black people.
  • LOUIS MILLER plays a black teenager who ends up getting killed while peacefully trying to protest the town's violation of his civil rights.
  • JOHN BEASLEY plays his father, a man determined to help Dove rid their town of the sheriff.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated drama/black comedy hybrid. Several instances of violence occur, with some people being beaten and one teenager being yanked from a fence onto the concrete below where he instantly dies upon impact. Another character is hit in the eye by a lawn mower-propelled object, with briefly bloody results and we hear, but don't see, that Lucille murdered her husband and cut off his head.

    Being set in the racially divisive south of the 1960s, many characters have bad attitudes regarding that, while Lucille obviously has both for killing and decapitating her husband, as well as continuing with some criminal activity along her way to Hollywood. Profanity consists of 2 "s" words, along with some other mild profanity and some colorful phrases.

    Beyond that, there's some drinking and smoking, some cleavage revealing outfits and Lucille having a briefly steamy moment with a sheriff (to fool him enough so that she can grab his gun to escape). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.

  • Some men on the street drink beer and others drink inside a bar (where Lucille orders a Hurricane -- a mixed drink).
  • People have drinks in a casino.
  • Dove has a drink.
  • Lucille drinks champagne.
  • People have drinks at a party thrown by Joan.
  • Lucille states that her husband got drunk on their wedding night.
  • Although we never actually see the head (although we do see what's holding it), the thought of Lucille carrying around a severed head (for some time) may be unsettling/disturbing/gross to some viewers.
  • We briefly see a body in a casket during a visitation (but beyond being dead it isn't bloody or gory).
  • Something flies out from under a running lawnmower and hits Peejoe in the eye, resulting in a rather bloody wound.
  • Lucille obviously has both for killing and then decapitating her husband. She also leaves her kids with her mother so that she can pursue her dream of acting and robs a barkeep of his money and car.
  • Sheriff Doggett obviously also has both types of attitudes as he's a racist cop responsible for several deaths (and he tells some black kids that they have no rights in his town). Later, he offers to be more lenient on Lucille if Peejoe doesn't blow the whistle on him.
  • A barkeep automatically thinks Lucille is a prostitute and thus treats her that way.
  • Some may see Dove having some for wanting to protect his sister despite the murder she committed.
  • A public pool owner makes some black kids get out of the pool (after the white patrons have already left the water) telling them that it's for white people only. Some other white kids are then demeaning to the black ones as they leave.
  • A waitress, fully aware of what Lucille did, urges her to leave when a lawman enters the restaurant (instead of turning her in).
  • Some white people heckle a black funeral procession.
  • Earlene has both regarding Peejoe showing up on the cover of a magazine along with a black kid.
  • Joan has both toward Lucille in a condescending fashion.
  • We hear about the ways in which Lester treated Lucille (none are seen) that include, getting drunk on their wedding night and not returning for several days, punching holes in her diaphragm to make sure she repeatedly got pregnant, cheating on her with her best friend, and physically abusing her and their kids, etc...
  • As some suspenseful music plays, Dove and Doggett go looking for Lucille's husband's body in their basement (and react to finding it in the freezer, but we don't see it).
  • Although such moments are played for laughs, some viewers may be unsettled by Lucille hearing her dead husband's voice (coming from the bag and/or hat box containing his head).
  • A group of black kids approaches a pool and the white families leave in fear of what looks like trouble. It turns out, however, that the kids are only going to have a sit down protest at the pool.
  • One of Doggett's deputies hits a black kid at a pool and another drives another kid against a wall. As Taylor tries to climb up a fence, Doggett grabs and yanks him off the fence, sending his crashing to the pool-side concrete where he instantly dies upon impact. Later, there's another violent confrontation between black and white people.
  • Lucille climbs out over the edge of a bridge trying to retrieve her bag of money and nearly falls off.
  • In the opening credits we see a cartoon handgun firing.
  • Rat poison: Used by Lucille to kill her husband (not seen).
  • Handguns: Used by Lucille to rob a barkeep of his money and car (during which she fires a warning shot into the ceiling), and later to escape from a sheriff who thinks she's amorously interested in him.
  • Clubs: Used by some white people to beat black people during confrontations.
  • Phrases: "Kiss my butt," "Slut," "Whore," "Weirdo," "Niggers" and "Boy" (said by white people toward black people), "Pain in the butt," "Nuts" (crazy), "Idiot" and "Shut up."
  • We hear that Lucille killed her husband by spiking his coffee with rat poison.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 2 "s" words, 11 hells, 4 damns, 3 asses, 2 S.O.B.s and 10 uses of "Oh my God," 3 of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "Lord," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," "Oh God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • A waitress tells Lucille that her first husband used to yell out his mother's name "when we were doing it. You know, making love."
  • After Lucille has been arrested, she talks to the sheriff in a seductive tone while suggestively running her hand up and down on the jail cell bars. She tells the sheriff that she left her husband because he made her "do things, awful things" that she can't tell him and that she "can't even say those words." We then see her leg up alongside his body, him nuzzling her neck and then see his pants fall down to his ankles (no nudity). She then grabs his gun, however, and nothing else sexual happens.
  • After Lucille buys a dress, we then see the "nude" mannequin that shows partially realistic nude breasts.
  • Some performers in Las Vegas show some cleavage.
  • Chester's voice tells Lucille, "You got a bellboy to ring your chimes" (sexual inference).
  • Lucille shows some cleavage and a photo of her shows even more. Later, Jane shows some cleavage.
  • Lucille states that her husband formerly poked holes in her diaphragm so that she'd repeatedly get pregnant. Later, Peejoe and Wiley wonder what a diaphragm is.
  • Doggett smokes cigars several times, while Lucille does the same with cigarettes. Other miscellaneous or background characters also smoke.
  • Peejoe mentions that his parents died when he was little and that he and his brother have been living with his grandmother since then.
  • We see some grieving family members at a funeral home visitation.
  • Nehemiah and his family must deal with their son's death/murder and there's a big funeral march.
  • Whether Lucille indeed was crazy for what she did and what retribution, if any, she should have received for her actions.
  • The civil rights movement in the south during the 60s.
  • Although we don't see the act, Lucille admits to killing her husband with rat poison and then decapitating him.
  • We hear all sorts of sounds of things being broken in Peejoe's house (from Lucille's rambunctious kids).
  • After a barkeep insults her, Lucille throws her drink in his face and then holds her gun on him, taking his money and car (after firing a warning shot into the ceiling).
  • One of Doggett's deputies hits a black kid at a pool and another drives another kid against a wall. As Taylor tries to climb up a fence, Doggett grabs and yanks him off the fence, sending his crashing to the pool-side concrete where he instantly dies upon impact.
  • Lucille briefly aims two handguns at a sheriff so that she can escape.
  • Something flies out from under a running lawnmower and hits Peejoe in the eye, resulting in a rather bloody wound (and everyone thinks he was shot).
  • After people from a black funeral procession proceed to the controversial pool, white people show up and then begin struggling with and/or beating the black people (sometimes in slow motion) with clubs and fists.
  • Woozy from the sight of Chester's head, Joan knocks over a tray of drinks and then crashes through a glass door/window and falls into the pool.

  • Reviewed October 19, 1999 / Posted October 22, 1999

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