[Screen It]


(1999) (Pierce Brosnan, Renee Russo) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: After a valuable piece of artwork is stolen from a museum, a savvy and glamorous insurance investigator tries to prove that a billionaire playboy has stolen it.
Thomas Crown (PIERCE BROSNAN) is a forty-two-year-old self-made billionaire who's run out of challenges. While he's unable to connect with any one woman in a romantic sense due to his lack of trust -- a fact he discusses with his psychiatrist (FAYE DUNAWAY) -- his ability to close any business deal for a huge profit has left him hungry for another conquest.

Thus, after several high-tech thieves have their attempted art heist at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art thwarted, Crown casually walks in, steals a Monet valued at $100 million and then just as casually leaves. Detectives Michael McCann (DENIS LEARY) and Paretti (FRANKIE FAISON) then respond to the case and believe that an accomplice to the captured thieves must have escaped with the painting.

When beautiful but aloof insurance investigator Catherine Banning (RENEE RUSSO) shows up, however, she quickly deducts that Crown is the culprit due to him being a witness to the crime and his past track record of high bids at prior Monet auctions.

Soon thereafter, she directly asks what he's done with the valuable painting. While he mischievously denies any wrongdoing, from that point on a cat and mouse chess game ensues where the formidable opponents -- who both enjoy this new challenge and the fact that sparks are flying between them -- try to outsmart the other.

Older teens and those who are fans of someone in the cast might want to, but it's doubtful this film will be high on most other kids "must see" lists.
For some sexuality and language.
  • PIERCE BROSNAN plays a billionaire playboy who steals a valuable painting not because of its worth, but due to the challenge of doing so. Along the way he has sex with Catherine while eluding her queries about whether he really stole the Monet.
  • RENEE RUSSO plays an initially aloof insurance investigator who will do whatever it takes -- including sleeping with the suspect and breaking into the billionaire's home -- to prove that Crown stole the artwork.
  • DENIS LEARY plays the local police detective who doesn't approve of Catherine's investigatory methods and occasionally uses strong profanity.
  • FAYE DUNAWAY plays Crown's psychiatrist who appears in a few brief scenes.


    OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
    As of the beginning of August 1999, Microsoft head honcho Bill Gates was the richest man in the world, with an approximate worth of around $80 billion (down around $10 billion from earlier in the summer). Even if he cashed out everything and became a recluse, he'd still have more than enough money to do or buy pretty much whatever he wanted.

    The question then follows about what such rich people do for fun. Yes, with the number of billionaires around the world growing at an unprecedented rate, this is a horrible plight that must be addressed and brought to the public's attention before it gets out of control and they start sending me truckloads of money. Ah, but to dream...

    Of course, one can only guess what those billionaires do in their spare time. While Mr. Gates obviously now has a few pint-sized billionaires scampering around the house to keep him somewhat busy, one has to wonder if he uses $1,000 bills to light the fireplace, or if he simply hires more high-priced lawyers to further irritate the Justice department just for fun.

    Then again, perhaps he or others in the same predicament moonlight in other professions, such as cat burglary. That's the premise of "The Thomas Crown Affair," a remake of the 1968 Norman Jewison film of the same name that starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway as the playfully adversarial "couple."

    While I've never seen the original film and thus can't compare the two, this one has changed the billionaire's "pastime" from bank robberies to art heists, but apparently has otherwise retained the spirit and basic overall premise of the original.

    As helmed by action director John McTiernan (the first and third "Die Hard" films as well as "The Hunt For Red October" and "Predator") and written by the collaborative screenwriting team of Leslie Dixon ("Mrs. Doubtfire," "Outrageous Fortune") who penned the romance elements and Kurt Wimmer ("Sphere") who scripted the heist sequences, the film is an enjoyable piece of fluff entertainment and clearly benefits from two important elements.

    The first is the general public's fascination with the rich and famous. From magazines and TV shows like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" we love seeing how the "better half" lives, and this film oozes such material. From the decor of Crown's home to a quick flight to the Caribbean, there are plenty of sights to make the audience envious. It also doesn't hurt that its stars, Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo, are also more than a bit easy on the eyes.

    Brosnan, somewhat in danger of becoming typecast as the debonair leading man -- especially after many stints as 007 in the "James Bond" films -- is nonetheless quite good as the playfully mysterious Crown. While the moments of him partially spilling the beans to his psychiatrist -- and thus showing some depth -- are not as successful, Brosnan should entertain audiences yearning for a suave, but calculating playboy whose motives are never quite clear until the final scene.

    For a change of pace from many of her previous roles, Russo ("Tin Cup," the last two "Lethal Weapon" films), a former model, plays off her glamorous side and the effect works quite well. While some may be surprised to see her baring so much flesh -- for the first time and in her mid- forties -- it's clearly a non-forced choice of hers and Russo delivers a good performance, skin or no skin.

    Supporting performers are clearly put on the back burner. Denis Leary ("True Crime," "Wag the Dog") can't do much with his stereotypical cop role (he's pretty much relegated to giving Russo's character disapproving looks), while former Oscar winner and costar of the original film, Faye Dunaway ("Network," "Chinatown") appears for nothing more than an extended cameo as Crown's shrink (in some scenes that really do little for the overall film).

    Since we know from the start that Crown has stolen the valuable painting and that Catherine immediately suspects him, the film must then offer some fun "cat and mouse" chess match moments -- where the two try to outsmart and/or maneuver the other without following in love -- in order to succeed.

    While it doesn't contain as many as I personally would have liked to have seen -- but otherwise has some long and drawn out sequences that seem more like filler than necessary elements -- enough twists and turns are present to keep things interesting and the audience entertained, particularly at the end.

    When such moments aren't present -- and one begins to notice passing similarities to this year's "Entrapment" (with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in somewhat similar roles), McTiernan and cinematographer Tom Priestly ("Bordello of Blood," "Lovestruck") compensate by continuously varying the nearly always moving camera shots, while veteran composer Bill Conti (an Oscar winner for "The Right Stuff") uses an odd and somewhat eclectic combination of music to establish or maintain the mood of various scenes.

    While such music helps give the film what's presumably an intentional 1960s feel -- to pay homage to the original and despite being set in the present -- it quickly begins to feel a bit too forced and soon becomes annoying, although it thankfully dissipates in the second half.

    Although the film has some dull and/or unnecessary moments, for the most part it's an enjoyable enough, albeit lightweight diversion that adult moviegoers should find to their liking. With enough audience pleasing moments and decent performances from its leads, the film might not be remembered for long (much like the original), but delivers enough "bang for the buck" enjoyment to make it worth recommending -- even for bored billionaires. We give "The Thomas Crown Affair" a 6.5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated romantic drama. We see several brief views (either passing by, from a distance or partially in shadows) of the lead characters having sex, including nudity (female bare breasts, male bare butt). Other nonsexual nudity occurs, including a woman's bare breasts as well as that same woman wearing a sheer and partially see-through dress (partial views of breasts and butt).

    Profanity is heavy due to 4 uses of the "f" word, along with some other profanities and phrases. Bad attitudes consist of a billionaire who steals artwork and tries to manipulate others, along with an investigator who sleeps with the suspect or breaks into his home trying to prove his guilt.

    Beyond some brief smoking, greater amounts of drinking and some brief, limited, violence, the rest of the film is relatively void of any other major objectionable content. Nonetheless, and should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest taking a closer look at the listed content.

  • Crown has a glass of wine.
  • People have champagne at a fund raiser/art donation. Later, Catherine orders vodka while Crown has Scotch at a reception.
  • At a restaurant, Crown orders Scotch for himself and champagne for Catherine (while others also drink). He then orders a bottle of wine for some police officers who've been trailing him.
  • McCann drinks beer.
  • People have drinks at a dance.
  • As Catherine and Crown playfully fool around/have sex, we see her pouring liquor from a bottle on him.
  • Crown walks out pouring some sort of liquor into a glass.
  • Catherine and Crown have wine with dinner and he then goes off to get another bottle.
  • As Catherine and Crown lie in bed together, he has a drink.
  • McCann tells a story that in the past his girlfriend got drunk, stayed out all night and was married to someone else the next morning.
  • Catherine has a glass of wine or champagne on a plane, but doesn't drink it.
  • None.
  • Crown enjoys stealing artwork as well as manipulating people, but does so just as a challenge or game. He also offers Catherine twice the money she's making as an insurance investigator to quit and run off with him.
  • A small team of thieves tries to steal artwork from the museum.
  • Catherine sleeps with Crown and steals his keys, makes copies of them, and then illegally enters his house, all in an effort to prove that he stole the Monet.
  • While having a relationship with Catherine, it appears that Crown is also seeing another woman.
  • McCann tells a story that in the past his girlfriend got drunk, stayed out all night and was married to someone else the next morning.
  • It's possible some viewers may find the scenes where some high-tech art thieves try to avoid detection while setting up their heist as somewhat suspenseful.
  • The same holds true when Catherine and her team have to disable Crown's house alarm before it goes off after they illegally enter his home.
  • Electric prod: Used by a guard to stun an art thief.
  • Handguns: Aimed by guards/police at some would-be art thieves.
  • Phrases: "I don't really give a sh*t," "Sack of sh*t," "Jerk," "Screwed up," "Crapped out," "Geek," "Piss," "Jeez," "Bastard" and "Pissed me off."
  • There's also a reference to "busting one's cherry" (used in a nonsexual way about inexperience).
  • It's possible the film could inspire impressionable kids to want to steal (for the sheer challenge as well as monetary reasons).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 4 "f" words (1 used sexually), 8 "s" words, 5 hells, 4 damns, 3 S.O.B.s (with another incomplete one), 2 craps, and 3 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "God" and "For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • We also see Catherine silently mouth the "f" word in one scene.
  • Crown tells his psychiatrist that intimacy doesn't always equal enjoyment.
  • Catherine's high-cut, slit dress shows some upper thigh and the top of her garter.
  • After McCann complains to Catherine that she'll now be on his back (about the investigation), she suggestively comments that he might enjoy that.
  • We see a bare-breasted, reclining statue of a woman in Crown's home and later see a museum painting featuring a bare-breasted woman.
  • As they throw questions back and forth at one another, Catherine asks Crown, "Do you really think I'm going to sleep with the man I'm investigating?"
  • Catherine wears a sheer, and partially see-through dress at a dance that somewhat shows her breasts and butt through it (and the camera briefly focuses on her body). Later we see black and white photos of her in this dress that likewise show diffused views of her bare breasts.
  • We see Crown and Catherine undressing (her dress falling to the floor from a view at her ankles). She then takes off his shirt and we then see a camera shot from high above them showing him between her legs (and his bare butt, although from a far distance) on the floor and then on the steps. As the camera quickly passes by their bodies as they have sex we see the bare-breasted statue in his house again, as well as fleeting glimpses of her bare breasts or the sides of them. We then see longer views of her entire bare breasts as well as her playfully pouring liquor from a bottle on him. As he then carries her through the shadows we see glimpses of his bare butt and he then lowers her down onto the top of a desk/table. On top of her, he then kisses her and we see more glimpses of them having sex.
  • Crown and his psychiatrist briefly comment on how porcupines mate -- either very carefully or unsuccessfully.
  • In the islands and as Catherine walks out with just a towel over her bare shoulders, we see the sides of her bare breasts. She then wraps that towel around the shirtless Crown and they kiss, but we don't see anything else.
  • As Catherine lies out in the sun on an island, we see several full views of her bare breasts.
  • From a side angle we see Catherine and Crown in bed together, with her lying nude on top of him (he's also nude), and thus see the sides of their bare butts.
  • McCann tells a story that in the past his girlfriend got drunk, stayed out all night and was married to someone else the next morning. In response, he states that he "f*cked five women in three nights."
  • We see an out of focus, modern art painting that shows a man's bare butt and woman's bare breasts.
  • An executive lights up a cigar upon completing a deal with Crown.
  • A miscellaneous character has an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
  • None.
  • Catherine's tactics in trying to prove that Crown is guilty (sleeping with him, breaking into his place, etc...).
  • Whether a successful billionaire would actually do something so risky as steal valuable artwork.
  • Crown purposefully trips a would-be art thief, another is pushed into a wall and a museum guide/security guard zaps one with an electric prod.
  • Hoping to get a guilty and/or panicked reaction out of Crown, Catherine takes a small crate presumably holding a valuable painting and puts it on a campfire where it completely burns up.
  • McCann tells a story that in the past his girlfriend got drunk, stayed out all night and was married to someone else the next morning. In response, he states that among other things, he roughed up a suspect (to the point of unconsciousness -- but that isn't seen).

  • Reviewed August 2, 1999 / Posted August 6, 1999

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