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"SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS"
(2001) (Brooke Smith, Marylouise Burke) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: In a reality TV show that pits contestants against one another in a lethal game, the various participants must kill or be killed in order to be named the winner in this parody of reality-based programming.
PLOT:
In this parody of reality-based TV shows, various contestants are randomly chosen to participate in "The Contenders," a long-running TV game show where the winner is the only one who's still alive at the end. The reigning champ is Dawn (BROOKE SMITH), an eight-month pregnant woman who's been brought back to her Connecticut hometown to take on her new foes.

Among them is Connie (MARYLOUISE BURKE) a middle-aged ER nurse who's handy with lethal injections; Franklin (RICHARD VENTURE), a cantankerous senior citizen; Tony (MICHAEL KAYCHECK), an unemployed husband and father; Lindsay (MERRITT WEVER), a teen whose parents -- Sheila (DONNA HANOVER) and Bob (DANTON STONE) - encourage her success; and Jeff (GLENN FITZGERALD), a thirty-something artist whose wife, Doria (ANGELINA PHILLIPS), must not only deal with him being chosen for the show, but also his suicidal tendencies due to having cancer and the fact that he and Dawn dated back in high school.

As the show's cameras follow them around and interview them for their insights about themselves and their opponents, the various contestants set out to avoid being killed while trying to off the others and thus be named the show's champion.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Teens and those who are fans of reality-based TV shows such as "Survivor" may want to see this spoof of such programming.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong violent content and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BROOKE SMITH plays the reigning champion of the show, a very pregnant woman who has no problem killing the others. She also uses strong profanity and has a generally belligerent attitude toward everyone and everything and is reported to have had an abortion in the past.
  • GLENN FITZGERALD plays the suicidal contestant who's resigned to die due to his testicular cancer. He tries to get others to kill him, uses some strong profanity and is reported to have dabbled in homosexuality in his past.
  • MARYLOUISE BURKE plays a middle-aged ER nurse who's been known to help certain patients die in the past, and uses her lethal injection behavior to dispatch several of her opponents.
  • RICHARD VENTURE plays a cantankerous senior citizen and one of the show's unwilling contestants.
  • MICHAEL KAYCHECK plays a 39-year-old unemployed family man who uses some strong profanity and goes to extreme measures while succumbing to the pressures of the show.
  • MERRITT WEVER plays a teenager who must not only deal with the pressure of the show, but also that from her overeager parents and amorous boyfriend.
  • ANGELINA PHILLIPS plays Jeff's wife who must deal with him being chosen as a contestant on the show, his suicidal death wish in relation to his cancer, and the fact that he and Dawn still have feeling for each other.
  • NADA DESPOTOVICH plays Tony's increasingly estranged wife.
  • DONNA HANOVER and DANTON STONE play Lindsay's overeager and overzealous parents who encourage and push her into killing the others.
  • 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 comedy. Being a parody about a game show where the only winner is the one who's left alive, the film is filled with various instances of lethal and bloody violence (people being shot, having their throats slit, being given lethal injections, etc.), with no repercussions from the law. A childbirth scene also results in some blood.

    The various participants thus obviously have bad attitudes (in a kill or be killed fashion) while some viewers will see the film and its use of violence for humor as being in bad taste, regardless of its parody nature. Some may also view such behavior as being unsettling or tense, but few such moments are intentionally played for anything but laughs.

    Profanity is rated as extreme due to the use of more than 34 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Some sexually related dialogue is present, as are some brief moments of a young couple fooling around under the covers of the girl's bed (but nothing else is seen). Various characters drink and smoke, with one briefly appearing to use drugs just off-camera. Some tense family moments are present, as is some imitative behavior (including the "kill or be killed" game that appears within the movie).

    Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in it.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • It appears that Tony snorts some lines of cocaine in his bathroom (we see him bent over, but don't see the actual snorting, although we hear what sounds like it).
  • In some flashback footage, we see some champagne at a wedding.
  • We hear that Dawn was known as a pothead in the past and the film's narrator comments that she and Jeff experimented with drugs in the past.
  • Jeff and his wife have wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly see a person with a very bloody face and then see a bloody hand. Later, we see that man with the bloody face again as he's brought into an ER.
  • We see a flashback to Dawn grabbing a woman in a past competition and slitting her throat (and blood squirts onto an elevator wall).
  • A man's lip is a little bloody.
  • We see a close-up of a needle going into an arm.
  • A victim's nose is bloody after being hit with a cane.
  • We see some blood on a person's shirt after they've been shot (when some blood squirted out from the wound).
  • During a childbirth at home, we see blood on the mother's clothing and legs as well as on the helper's hands, face and telephone. We also see the infant's bloody feet.
  • We see some blood on a person's hands, as well as some blood on bed sheets.
  • A person has some bloody scrapes and/or splatter on their face and clothing.
  • In a dramatic re-creation, a person shoots another person (and there's blood around that victim) and then commits suicide (with blood on them, the wall and the floor).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers may see the overall film and its parody as being in bad taste for using violence as a means for humor and not showing any legal/societal repercussions for participating in such violence.
  • The various contestants obviously have extreme cases of both types of attitudes (as does the show that's picked them) as they kill or try to kill the others.
  • Dawn has a nasty and belligerent attitude toward nearly everyone and everything.
  • Connie admits to various mercy killings in the hospital before her involvement in the show.
  • Lindsay's boyfriend tries to convince her to have sex with him (because she shouldn't be a virgin for the show) and then gets mad at her when she won't do that.
  • For those opposed to such matters, we learn that Dawn had an abortion in the past.
  • Tony briefly kidnaps his own daughter.
  • Some viewers may be offended about one of the contestants stating that their faith is getting them through this whole ordeal of killing people.
  • Some contestants hold up/rob a store at gunpoint and then later take some people in a theater hostage.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers (despite the film's intentional parody nature).
  • Jeff puts his gun to his head and pulls the trigger (but it's empty).
  • A contestant slowly makes her way through another contestant's home, gun drawn and in the dark.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Various weapons: Given to the contestants and displayed or carried by them (including a 9 mm pistol, semi-automatic rifle, 12 gauge shotgun, and hand to hand combat knife).
  • Handguns/Knives: Seen in various shots and/or used by people to threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get the f*ck out of here," "F*ck with them a little bit," "I'm going to f*cking annihilate you," "What the f*ck is this?" "Don't f*ck around now," "What the f*ck's the matter with you?" "You (f*cking) bitch," "She's a f*cking psycho," "F*ck you," "You f*cked it up," "They're f*cking with us," "F*ck them," "Shut the f*ck up," "Sit the f*ck down," "Not f*cking around," "This is bullsh*t," "You look like sh*t," "Scared sh*tless," "Are you sh*tting me?" "You are a total c*nt," "You big piece of p*ssy," "Screwing up," "Retarded," "Whore," "What the hell?" "Crazy bitch," "Screw" (nonsexual) and "Bastard."
  • It's possible some kids could get the idea to do the same kind of kill or be killed "game" as shown here.
  • Jeff puts his gun to his head and pulls the trigger (but it's empty).
  • Dawn calls Connie with a fake bomb threat to make her run from the house. Once she's outside, Dawn fires several shots at her.
  • We see a dramatization of a person mixing up a lethal blend of pills to kill someone.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 34 "f" words (2 used with "mother," 1 possibly used sexually), 11 "s" words, 2 slang terms using female genitals ("c*nt" and "p*ssy"), 3 asses (2 used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, 1 S.O.B., 7 uses of "Oh my God," "4 of "Oh Jesus," 2 each of "G-damn" and "Jesus Christ," and 1 use each of "Christ," "For Christ's sakes" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • While Dawn drives around her old hometown, she points out the building in which she lost her virginity.
  • We see Lindsay and her boyfriend making out (with him partially on top of her with both still clothed) and he starts to work on her belt or pants. When she stops him, he tells her that she can't be a virgin when the show starts.
  • As Jeff's wife describes testicular cancer, we see a cartoon representation of a penis and scrotum.
  • Upset at Dawn, Tony says that God should come and "f*ck her mother just for having her" (could be meant sexually or as retribution).
  • Jeff admits that in the past that there was a time when he was experimenting and confused about his sexuality and that there was a group in college looking to help him accept a gay identity, but he says that's not what he's about anymore.
  • We see Lindsay's boyfriend quickly climb off from on top of her (under the covers of her bed) as her father and the camera crew suddenly enter her bedroom (we don't see any activity or nudity, although we do partially see the boyfriend getting dressed).
  • Jeff's wife mentions something about giving up sex.
  • Connie confesses - in a confessional -- that she had impure thoughts about a TV personality.
  • SMOKING
  • Jeff smokes a few times, while a cameraman smokes once and we see Connie with an unlit cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • While Dawn drives around her old hometown, she points out where she thinks her dad is buried.
  • Tony's involvement in the show puts a strain on his marriage and family life.
  • Jeff's cancer and suicidal nature has put a strain on his marriage.
  • Dawn has an estranged relationship with her sister and mother.
  • A contestant's spouse is upset upon finding them dead (but not played realistically).
  • Lindsay gets mad at her parents and eventually attacks her father over their rabid enthusiasm/demands that she complete a kill.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The concept of this parody spoof and whether some will see it as glamorizing violence or desensitizing viewers to it through comedy.
  • Whether "reality TV" would ever evolve into something like this.
  • Testicular cancer - what Jeff has and why he's suicidal.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Dawn walks into a store, shoots a man in the back and then shoots him several times again (no blood).
  • We see various quick images of people firing weapons and then see a man with a very bloody face, another with a bloody hand and a person with a knife.
  • Jeff puts his gun to his head and pulls the trigger (but it's empty).
  • Jeff watches a movie on TV where some vehicles crash and explode.
  • Dawn calls Connie with a fake bomb threat to make her run from the house. Once she's outside, Dawn fires several shots at her.
  • We see a gun being shot on TV.
  • Lindsay runs off - apparently toward her intended victim - and we hear some gunshots, but can't see anything.
  • Dawn takes her sister's truck at gunpoint.
  • Dawn fires a shot through Tony's window. He then runs out and fires a shot at her truck as it drives away. He then kidnaps his own daughter and uses her as a hostage while trying to avoid show guards or police (although he holds a knife to his own throat while holding the girl). Once the girl is safely removed from him, others tackle Tony.
  • We see a flashback to Dawn grabbing a woman in a past competition and slitting her throat (and blood squirts onto an elevator wall). We then see her kick some man down a stairwell (where he's presumably dead at the bottom), and then apparently drown another past contestant in a toilet after briefly struggling with her in a bathroom. We then see her strangling a woman from behind her in a car with piano wire or something similar, and then a flashback to the first killing listed in this section.
  • We hear that Tony is in the hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the back.
  • Connie kills one of the contestants via lethal injection delivered by a needle into the arm as the subject is restrained and can't defend himself.
  • Lindsay and Franklin fire some shots at each other and we then see that she was apparently hit in the arm.
  • A woman briefly struggles with another woman.
  • Lindsay hits her father with something, causing him pain and to say that he's bleeding.
  • A contestant cracks another one over the head with a cane and then proceeds to strike the fallen one repeatedly (we don't see the impact but hear the victim and/or others screaming) until they're dead.
  • Another contestant then shoots and fatally wounds the attacker, and yet another contestant then shoots at that one, but misses. That person then fires several shots at that other contestant's car as it drives away. Later, that person threatens the other again with their gun.
  • We see a dramatization of a person mixing up a lethal blend of pills to kill someone, and then putting a plastic bag over the victim's head to finish the act (although we later see that this person didn't die as they were reportedly revived).
  • We see video footage of a train crashing into a bus.
  • Two contestants struggle on the floor (after one tried to kill the other with a lethal injection) and we then hear a gunshot (resulting in one death).
  • We see the point of view of the camera people as they're attacked by two of the contestants (and have guns aimed at them).
  • A contestant shoots a gun in a theater to get their hostages' attention.
  • In a dramatic re-creation, a person shoots another person (and there's blood around that victim) and then commits suicide (with blood on them, the wall and the floor). We later see, however, that the suicide victim actually survived.



  • Reviewed February 27, 2001 / Posted March 16, 2001

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