[Screen It]


(1999) (Sean Penn, Samantha Morton) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Minor Heavy Minor Moderate
Minor None None Minor Mild
Smoking Tense Family
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Talk About
Moderate Extreme Minor Mild Moderate

Drama: A talented but troubled jazz guitarist of the 1930s lives life on his own terms while avoiding romantic commitment and trying to cope with being the second best such musician in the world.
In the 1930s, Emmet Ray (SEAN PENN) is a gifted, but troubled jazz guitarist who's considered to be the best in the world, second only to the legendary Django Reihhardt. While the thought or site of that man sends Emmet into a paranoid tizzy, he otherwise spends his time boozing it up, pimping for some young women and generally living life by his own terms.

As such, he loves women but hates the thought of settling down. Thus, once free of his latest "girlfriend," Emmet heads out with his buddy Bill Shields (BRIAN MARKINSON) where they meet a young mute woman, Hattie (SAMANTHA MORTON), and her friend. While Emmet isn't happy to have a woman who can't speak, they sleep together and soon become something of a romantic item.

Yet, Emmet's lackadaisical demeanor and boozing ways puts both his paying gigs and relationship with Hattie in jeopardy. Over time, he eventually meets another woman, Blanche (UMA THURMAN), a writer with a desire to know what goes through the minds of people in various professions. Although they quickly get married, she eventually has a fling with Al Torrio (ANTHONY LaPAGLIA), a bodyguard with a dangerous reputation that titillates her.

As Emmet continues in the shadows of Django's reputation, he begins to realize that his life isn't as ideal as he would like, and that he may have thrown away his best chances at happiness.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or of director Woody Allen, it's extremely unlikely.
For sexual content and some substance abuse.
  • SEAN PENN plays a talented, but troubled jazz guitarist who smokes and drinks throughout the film (and briefly uses some drugs). He also has commitment problems and doesn't always treat others nicely.
  • SAMANTHA MORTON plays a mute woman who sleeps with Emmet upon first meeting him and then falls hard for him.
  • UMA THURMAN plays a writer who marries Emmet but then cheats on him.
  • ANTHONY LaPAGLIA plays the man she cheats with, a bodyguard/strong arm who claims to have killed many people.
  • BRIAN MARKINSON plays Emmet's buddy.


    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).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated drama. Some sexual behavior is suggested (we see characters undressing beforehand, and then see them in bed afterwards), while some brief related talk occurs. Profanity consists of at least 1 "s" word, along with a variety of other milder profanities and some colorful phrases.

    Guns are used to shoot rats for recreation, while others are used in flashbacks (that may or may not be real) to hold up a gas station, shoot at cops, or briefly threaten others). The protagonist smokes throughout the film, while many others smoke as well. He also drinks a lot, and briefly uses drugs that cause him to wake up in a strange town several days later.

    Beyond that and some bad attitudes (especially pertaining to the protagonist's behavior and treatment of others), the rest of the film's categories don't contain any major objectionable content. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, however, you might want to take a closer look at our detailed content listings.

  • People drink in clubs or other venues many times during the film.
  • There's talk of Emmet being drunk in the past.
  • Ben and some other men drink from a flask and he and these men later drink at a home.
  • We see Emmet drinking from a bottle along with some bums at the train yard.
  • After there's some talk of Emmet being scared to descend onto a stage riding a crescent moon apparatus, he shows up very drunk.
  • Emmet and his buddy have beer while eating with Hattie and her friend.
  • Emmet offers Hattie a drink in his room but she declines, but later we do see several bottles on his nightstand.
  • Emmet has a shot of liquor at a bar.
  • Emmet drinks from a flask and then smokes something from a long pipe that might be drug-related. Later, he and a woman smoke what looks like a joint (related to that he mentions that he took one puff and the next thing he knew he woke up in another place than where he started).
  • Emmet has a drink.
  • A friend of Emmet's drinks.
  • Emmet has wine in a restaurant where others drink.
  • Emmet has a drink.
  • Emmet drinks from a flask.
  • Blanche has a drink with Al Torrio.
  • Emmet and another man have beer.
  • Emmet seems rather drunk as he drinks from a bottle.
  • Emmet and a woman have drinks.
  • As a man falls out from the driver's seat of a car, we see a small, bloody bullet hole in his clothing.
  • Emmet is often late or shows up drunk for his shows, is known as a kleptomaniac and occasionally steals items (and then throws them away on the street), and he's a pimp for several prostitutes and is upset at the amount of money they bring him.
  • Emmet initially isn't respectful of Hattie, referring to her as a "dummy" (since she's mute) and comments that her writing looks like a Chinaman's. It's implied that he cheats on her, he makes her change a flat tire while he plays the guitar on the side of the road (stating he can't risk his hands) and he eventually leaves her in the middle of the night for good without even saying good-bye.
  • He also states that his motto is "love 'em and leave 'em."
  • Emmet tries to con the people at an amateur talent contest for their prize money, but we later hear that they figured it out.
  • We see that some people are counterfeiters and that once Emmet literally falls into this fake money, he takes it and uses it to buy a new car.
  • After getting married to Emmet, Blanche later cheats on him with Al who claims to have killed many people in his line of work (as a bodyguard/strong arm), although we don't see any evidence of this.
  • Although it's possible some viewers might find some scenes listed under "Violence" as tense, none are intentionally played that way.
  • Handgun: Carried by Emmet and used by him and others to shoot at rats at a dump (and occasionally hit some of them). Later used in a flashback (that may or may not have really happened) where he holds the gun on Blanche and Al.
  • Handguns: Used by men to rob a gas station and fired back into it as they flee, as well as at the police who later aim their guns at Emmet who gets out of a car holding his gun (but not aiming it at them).
  • Phrases: "Jerk(s)," "Half-wit," "Dope," "Suckers," "Dame" (for a woman), "Nuts" (crazy) and "Whores."
  • None.
  • None.
  • An old song has the lyrics, "Get high with me" (that may or may not be drug related).
  • At least 1 "s" word, 7 hells and 4 uses of "Jesus," 3 of "G-damn," 2 each of "Oh my God" and "Oh God" and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "Oh Jesus" and "Christ" as exclamations.
  • We see two prostitutes who report in to Emmet and pay him what they've earned. One of them talks about being in bed with one of the "johns" that Emmet sent her, of him getting very excited, and then dropping dead of a heart attack.
  • After Emmet tells his girlfriend that he doesn't want to settle down with her, he tells her, "That doesn't mean we can't fool around" and we then see him kissing her.
  • As Emmet and his friend try to pick up Hattie and her friend on the boardwalk, Emmet mentions that her more buxom friend has nice legs and "a nice chest."
  • As Emmet drives Hattie along at night, his friend passionately makes out with her friend in the backseat.
  • As Emmet stands behind Hattie, she starts to undress herself and then him, causing him to be somewhat rattled by her eagerness and pace. After they have sex (not seen), we see her getting dressed but don't see any nudity. After asking her if she liked what they just did (she did), he comments that others have said that he's "a wonderful lover." He then states that she has "a terrific body," and that the first time he had sex he was seven years old.
  • We later see Emmet and Hattie under the sheets of two single beds that have been pushed together, but don't see any nudity or activity.
  • It's implied that Emmet cheats on Hattie with another woman.
  • While talking with Blanche about living in a whorehouse, he equates it to being a cook who's in the kitchen all day and doesn't want to look at the food. Blanche then briefly comments on wanting to be a whore for a year. When she wonders about Emmet's fascination with trains, she talks about sheer potent sexual energy "that arouses his masculinity." He then says, "It sounds like you want to go to bed with the train."
  • After getting married to Emmet, Blanche later cheats on him. We then hear the man asks Blanche, "Who makes love to you better, me or him?" Blanche says about Emmet, "Even making love, he seems to exist in a world of his own." She then says to her lover, "I could go crazy when you touch me."
  • In a flashback that may or may not have been real, Al holds up a gas station at gunpoint because he knew it was a "turn on" for Blanche.
  • A woman tells Emmet that she's got a warm room and "I'll take care of you" (that may or may not be meant in a sexual manner).
  • Emmet smokes more than fifteen times during the film, while Blanche, Al and others smoke a few times. In addition, other miscellaneous or background characters smoke throughout the film.
  • Emmet mentions his father being dead and that before he died he formerly hit Emmet with his belt. He then briefly comments on believing his mother to be dead (but isn't sure since she was "put away" sometime ago).
  • After being married, Emmet and Blanche go through some tough times (only briefly seen), especially when she starts cheating on him.
  • That despite the documentary look, the character of Emmet Ray is fictional.
  • The way Emmet behaves and the way he treats others, especially the women in his life.
  • Jazz music and related guitarists.
  • We see Emmet violently breaking up a crescent moon prop he rode while descending down onto a stage.
  • Emmet has Hattie fire shots at a rat with his gun and when she misses, he fires and hits one, killing it (heard but not seen).
  • In a romantic daze, Hattie accidentally walks into and shatters a large pane of glass that's being carried by two men.
  • We see Blanche shooting at rats with Emmet's gun (and she hits one - not seen).
  • In a series of flashbacks about what could have happened in one pivotal scene we see the following. Some men come out of a gas station, firing their guns back into it before stealing Al's car. As police then chase them, one of them fires shots at the police. The car then crashes and the driver falls out with a small, bloody bullet hole in the back of his clothing.
  • In another version, Emmet holds his gun on Blanche and Al and then holds it to his own head as if to commit suicide (he doesn't). In yet another version, Al uses the gun to hold up the gas station.
  • Several cars crash into each other (but no one's hurt).
  • Emmet pushes a man in a dance hall and later grabs his "date" and then throws her to the ground.
  • Emmet smashes his guitar to pieces.

  • Reviewed December 17, 1999 / Posted December 22, 1999

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