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"TOPSY-TURVY"
(1999) (Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Famed theater lyricist and composer duo Gilbert and Sullivan must deal with creative differences, feelings of stagnation, and each other's egos as they try to mount their next opera.
PLOT:
It's 1884 London and two of the theater's most respected artists, William Schwenck Gilbert (JIM BROADBENT) and Arthur Sullivan (ALLAN CORDUNER), have hit a creative roadblock. Despite a successful and near decade long collaborative track record of entertaining theatergoers, their latest opera, "Princess Ida," is receiving lukewarm reviews and a summer heat wave has cut into their business at the Savoy Theater where it's staged.

That troubles both Richard D'Oyly Carte (RON COOK), the impresario who oversees both the theater and its troupe -- including Gilbert and Sullivan -- as well as his assistant, Helen Lenoir (WENDY NOTTINGHAM). For not only are box office returns dwindling, but Sullivan, the composer of the duo, feels that his work has become stagnant and wants to move on to more serious musical pieces.

Unfortunately for him, he and Gilbert, the lyricist, are contractually obligated to deliver another opera for the Savoy, and he isn't motivated by his collaborator's latest effort. Things appear to be at an impasse until Gilbert's wife, Kitty (LESLEY MANVILLE), drags him to a Japanese exhibition. Suddenly inspired by a different culture, Gilbert begins to write "The Mikado," an opera that similarly sparks the creative juices in Sullivan.

Soon the two begin working with the Savoy's regular cast that includes veteran performer, Richard "Dickey" Temple (TIMOTHY SPALL) and lead actress Lenora Braham (SHIRLEY HENDERSON), as well as Durward Lely (KEVIN McKIDD), Jessie Bond (DOROTHY ATKINSON), George Grossmith (MARTIN SAVAGE) and Rutland Barrington (VINCENT FRANKLIN), as well as Mr. Seymour (NICHOLAS WOODESON), the stage manager, and John D'Auban (ANDY SERKIS), their choreographer.

As the days count down toward their opening and with encouragement from Kitty and Fanny Ronalds (ELEANOR DAVID), Sullivan's mistress, the excited, nervous and worn out duo, along with their cast and crew, continue rehearsing in hopes that their latest opera is a creative and financial hit.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of Gilbert and Sullivan musical operas or someone in the cast, it's highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For a scene of risqué nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JIM BROADBENT plays the wordsmith Gilbert, a perfectionist who demands as much from himself as he does his performers. He occasionally smokes a pipe.
  • ALLAN CORDUNER plays Arthur Sullivan, the composer, who smokes, watches and frolics with some bare-breasted ladies and gets his mistress, Fanny, pregnant.
  • LESLEY MANVILLE plays Gilbert's wife.
  • ELEANOR DAVID plays Sullivan's mistress who ends up pregnant from their encounters.
  • TIMOTHY SPALL plays the troupe's veteran performer who briefly uses strong profanity.
  • SHIRLEY HENDERSON plays the troupe's leading actress who has a drinking problem.
  • RON COOK plays the impresario of the Savoy who must deal with the everyday headaches of running a theatrical production house.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    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).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. A brief scene involves several characters watching two bare-breasted women performing to a song (with one playfully touching the other's breasts and a brief glimpse of what appears to be momentary full frontal nudity of both). Several sexual encounters are implied between an unmarried couple resulting in the woman announcing she's pregnant (with some brief and presumably abortion related talk following).

    Profanity is heavy due to what sounded like 1 use of the "f" word, while only a handful of other profanities and colorful phrases are present. Several characters drink and smoke (with an actress reportedly having a drinking problem), and a few bad attitudes are present (mainly related to how some of the British view the Japanese in the late 1800s).

    Beyond a few slightly bloody wounds, the rest of the film's categories are mostly void of any major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about some part of the film and its appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Sullivan has a drink before an opening night performance. When he collapses afterwards (not from drinking), someone pours some brandy into his mouth.
  • Sullivan has a drink while watching two women perform a musical number, while a woman with him smokes from some sort of odd pipe (that may or may not contain a drug such as opium).
  • People, including Sullivan and Carte, have drinks/wine in a restaurant.
  • Leonora has several drinks.
  • Carte has a talk with Lenora about her drinking problem and she vows not to have or cause any problems related to that.
  • Gilbert has a drink.
  • People have drinks in a restaurant.
  • Sullivan has a drink before the opening night performance.
  • Lenora has a drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a needle being put into Sullivan's arm.
  • We see (from a distance) a slightly bloody tooth that a dentist has pulled from Gilbert's mouth.
  • We see a somewhat irritated/slightly bloody wound on Jessie's leg (that an attendant then covers with a bandage).
  • We see some bloody marks on Grossmith's arm (that look like small puncture wounds) that are then dabbed off with a towel/cloth.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Gilbert and Sullivan come to an artistic impasse regarding their upcoming effort, with Sullivan refusing to even give it another try (after Gilbert writes a new opera, however, he changes his own tune).
  • Some viewers may take offense at the English and their view of the Japanese (in person and as portrayed in the ensuing opera), such as Kitty commenting on their "silly" gowns, Gilbert briefly doing something of a stereotypical portrayal of a Samurai and later calling a Japanese woman, "Miss Sixpence Please" (since that's all the English she apparently knows, at least to Gilbert's mind).
  • Lely is somewhat demeaning toward the costumer's work.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Samurai Swords: Seen in a Japanese exhibit, and Gilbert then purchases one and has it hung on his wall.
  • Knife: Seen in a Japanese theatrical performance.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bloody" (as the British adjective) "Bitch" and "Bastard."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word (or what sounded like one), 3 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 damn and 1 use of "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Fanny starts to undo her dress in the presence of Sullivan, and while we don't see anything else, it's implied that they have sex (she's his mistress).
  • We see Sullivan watching two bare-breasted women performing some sort of mini-musical number (with one sitting on the other's lap). During the song, one of the women repeatedly tweaks the other's breast/nipple and then briefly touches her clothed crotch. When finished, the two women stand and briefly flip up their skirts revealing what appears to be a momentary view of their pubic hair. Sullivan then flirts with the two women, calling one "cheese" and commenting on her "little holes." He then kisses both between their breasts.
  • Sullivan playfully leaps on top of Fanny who's sprawled out on a small sofa and lands between her clothed legs, but we don't see anything else happen.
  • Fanny shows some cleavage in several scenes.
  • Fanny tells Sullivan that she's pregnant from their previous encounters.
  • SMOKING
  • Sullivan smokes at least seven times, while Gilbert does the same with a cigar at least five times. Other members of the troupe, including Lely, smoke once or a few times, while Fanny also smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Gilbert and his father talk about their estranged mother/wife and how they don't like her. Gilbert then watches in concern as his father has some sort of hallucination presumably brought on by old age/senility.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The works of Gilbert and Sullivan and this film's historical accuracy in portraying their story.
  • There are some very late and very brief references to what's presumably abortion as Fanny tells Sullivan that she's pregnant. He then tells her that he'll make the "arrangements," but she declines the offer, stating that she's already made them herself since "it's 1885, Arthur."
  • VIOLENCE
  • Although no violence occurs on camera, several characters discuss the killing of a general in Khartoum and Kitty tells a surreal story to Gilbert about a husband strangling someone with an umbilical cord.



  • Reviewed January 13, 2000 / Posted January 21, 2000

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