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"STORYTELLING"
(2001) (Selma Blair, Paul Giamatti) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Two unrelated stories serve to show the effects of fictional and nonfictional storytelling.
PLOT:
In "Fiction," Vi (SELMA BLAIR) is a college student who, like her boyfriend Marcus (LEO FITZPATRICK) and fellow student Catherine (ALESKA PALLADINO), is taking a writing course taught by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Gary Scott (ROBERT WISDOM). Marcus, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has his latest work torn to shreds in class and worries that Vi is interested in Scott. When they break up, she indeed seeks out the smooth-talking man, only to get more than she bargained for.

In "Nonfiction," Toby Oxman (PAUL GIAMATTI) is a down and out shoe clerk who's trying to make it as a documentary filmmaker with the aid of his editor (FRANKA POTENTE) and cameraman (MIKE SCHANK). Wanting to do a film about high school students and the disillusionment of the college experience, Toby decides to focus on Scooby Livingston (MARK WEBBER), a slacker with no ambition, drive or future.

His attitude, behavior and announcement that he's not going to college is driving his parents, Marty (JOHN GOODMAN) and Fern (JULIE HAGERTY) crazy, while their second oldest son, Brady (NOAH FLEISS), is concerned that allegations about Scooby being gay might hurt his popularity at school, and youngest son Mikey (JONATHAN OSSER) seems obsessed with the family's live-in maid, Consuelo (LUPE ONTIVEROS), and her life.

As Toby continues making his film, the Livingstons try to cope with their various issues and problems, all leading up to a surprising conclusion that none of them anticipates.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or director Todd Solondz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse," "Happiness"), it's probably not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content, language and some drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SELMA BLAIR plays a college student and aspiring writer who separately has sex with Marcus and her professor. She uses strong profanity, and briefly smokes and drinks.
  • LEO FITZPATRICK plays her boyfriend and fellow student who has cerebral palsy, uses strong profanity, has sex with Vi and becomes distraught when he thinks she's grown tired of him.
  • ALESKA PALLADINO plays a fellow student who has keen insights into others' writings.
  • ROBERT WISDOM plays their college professor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has no problem criticizing his students' works or having sex with many of his female students (and taking nude pictures of them).
  • PAUL GIAMATTI plays a sad sack type fellow who's making a documentary film about high school students and disillusionment.
  • MARK WEBBER plays a high school slacker who has no drive or motivation. He also smokes some pot, uses profanity and allows another guy to perform oral sex on him.
  • JOHN GOODMAN plays his father who's become increasingly fed up with his son's behavior and confronts him about it. He uses some profanity.
  • JULIE HAGERTY plays his wife who's also concerned about all of that, but isn't confrontational.
  • NOAH FLEISS plays their second oldest child, the popular jock who's concerned about Scooby's alleged homosexuality affecting his popularity. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • JONATHAN OSSER plays their younger, precocious brother who's rather intelligent but is only really looking out for himself.
  • LUPE ONTIVEROS plays their hard-working, live-in maid who's driven to the breaking point.
  • FRANKA POTENTE plays Toby's editor who smokes a few times.
  • 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:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 26 uses of the "f" word, while various other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Sexually explicit dialogue is also present, as are a few encounters.

    They involve/show a couple having sex (with movement, sounds and nudity), a professor having demeaning sex with a female student (with movement, nudity and sounds, as well as still photos of his past sexual conquests that show various nude, young women), and a homosexual encounter (a high school student has oral sex just off camera with his friend).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while a great deal of tense family material is present. A few tense/suspenseful scenes are present, including a person turning on the gas inside a house (as we wait for it explode -- that never occurs), resulting in several deaths. Meanwhile a student is injured in a football accident and left in a coma, and various people drink and/or smoke, while one student smokes/eats pot.

    If you're still concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home and want to know more specific information about what's present and occurs in the film, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Various people drink in a bar, including Vi who has a beer and Prof. Scott who has a drink.
  • Scooby smokes a joint.
  • Scooby appears to eat some pot from a bag.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see Toby standing at a urinal and hear him urinating, but don't see anything.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Marcus develops a bad attitude toward Vi, thinking she wants to sleep with their professor (she eventually does and thus cheats on Marcus, although they're somewhat broken up).
  • While angry, Vi refers to Marcus as a "f*cking cripple."
  • We learn that Prof. Scott has had sex with many of his female students (and has taken and kept many nude photos of them). He then has sex with Vi, and does so in a very demeaning fashion.
  • Scooby has a slacker's attitude toward life, school and his future. This causes his father to be quite mad at him and Brady to keep questioning and commenting that Scooby's gay.
  • Mikey asks Consuelo why she has so many kids, and she replies that it's God's will. Mikey then asks if she believes in God and after a pause, she says "no." Later, Mikey conspires to have his father fire her after believing she doesn't work very hard or have a hard job.
  • Some might not like Scooby stating that if not for Hitler, then neither he nor his siblings would have been born (since his mother's parents fled Europe and came to America before WWII).
  • Brady comes in and talks with Scooby, as he's concerned about his reputation if Scooby really is gay.
  • Scooby discovers that someone has stolen his car.
  • A person turns on the gas inside a house and puts rags under the doors to prevent it from escaping and then leaves. This eventually results in the deaths of those inside (we don't see the deaths, but do later see the bodies being taken out in body bags).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • After a friend brings over his dad's handgun for Toby to see, the teen first holds it to his own head, and then does the same to the friend (although nothing ultimately happens regarding that).
  • Scooby images his mother and father burning on the stake (with them screaming, but the scene doesn't look completely realistic).
  • A person turns on the gas inside a house and puts rags under the doors to prevent it from escaping and then leaves. The camera then lingers on a shot of the house for a long time as we expect it to explode (it never does).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun: Examined by Scooby (that a friend brought over to his house) and then held to his own head and then his friend's head (but nothing ultimately happens).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck are you talking about," "Patronizing f*ck," "F*ck you," "F*ck him," "F*cking cripple," "So f*cked," "What the f*ck do you think you're doing?" "Piece of sh*t," "This is bullsh*t," "I'm tired of this sh*t," "Sh*tty," "Freak," "Sucking up," "Bitch," "Nigger" (what Prof. Scott - who's black - makes Vi - who's white - call him while having sex), "Whore," "Jeez," "Get the hell out of here," "Don't screw around with me" and "You're tackling like a bitch" (a football coach to a player).
  • We see that Scooby has filled in the circles on his SAT answer sheet so that they form the words, "F*ck this sh*t."
  • A person turns on the gas inside a house and puts rags under the doors to prevent it from escaping and then leaves. This eventually results in the deaths of those inside (we don't see the deaths, but do later see the bodies being taken out in body bags).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 26 "f" words (1 written and 14 used sexually as is the term "get laid"), 8 "s" words (1 written), 1 slang term using female genitals ("c*nt"), 3 hells, 2 asses, 2 uses of "God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "For Christ's sakes," "My God" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see Vi having sex on top of Marcus with movement, sounds and various views of her bare breasts (he's also shirtless) in a series of torso shots. After she climaxes, she lies next to him (with both still doing some heavy breathing) and we see several more views of her bare breasts. Marcus then complains that he thinks she's tired of him since she doesn't sweat anymore when they have sex (she replies that she was never much of a sweater). He then adds that the pleasure isn't there anymore and that the kinkiness is gone for her.
  • Upset with how Prof. Scott has reacted to his writing and how Vi has reacted to that, Marcus angrily tells her, "You just want to f*ck him, like Catherine and every other white c*nt on campus."
  • When her roommate asks what she's going to do now that she's upset, Vi responds that she's going to go to a bar and "get laid."
  • Vi meets Prof. Scott in a bar and then goes back to his place to have sex. While freshening up in his bathroom, she finds many photos of his past sexual conquests and we thus see many nude women in various poses (bare breasts, rear nudity and brief full frontal).
  • She then returns to his bedroom where he's lying on the bed clothed. He tells her to remove her top (we see her bare back) and then the rest of her clothes (we see a full sideways view of her that shows her bare breasts and the side of her bare butt). He then tells her to turn around and bend over. As she does, he comes up behind her, undoes his pants and has sex with her from behind as both stand. We don't see much, however, as a large red box (inserted in post-production) is placed on top of them in the picture (although we hear their sexual sounds). We occasionally see close-up shots of their heads, however, that show rhythmic sexual movement. In addition, he repeatedly has her say phrases such as "F*ck me nigger" and "F*ck me hard" (that she says louder each time).
  • Afterwards, Vi goes to see Marcus and is upset about the above, and he comments that she's all sweaty.
  • The next day in class, Vi reads a fictionalized account of her encounter with the Professor (that includes some descriptions of that encounter with graphic sexual dialogue). She then ends with that she had entered college with hope, but would graduate as a "whore." Students then dissect the work, with Catherine commenting on the myth of black male sexual potency, and the notch the professor would make in the character's belt.
  • While in Scooby's bedroom, a male teenage friend of his states that he really likes Scooby (who says he knows), as the latter lies back on his bed (clothed). The friend then asks if Scooby would "let me" while referring to his crotch. Scooby says yes, and the friend then presumably performs oral sex on him (we see him going toward his still clothed crotch, but the scene ends as the camera briefly focuses on Scooby's face as we hear a zipper sound).
  • We see a poster on the wall in Brady's room that shows a young woman with her legs spread while squatting (she's wearing a shirt, but a view of her crotch is blocked by objects in the foreground of the shot). Another poster, that's also blocked from full view, shows a great deal of the back of a woman's upper leg.
  • SMOKING
  • Vi and her professor each smoke once, while Toby's editor smokes twice and a cheerleader smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • There's quite a bit of tension in the Livingston family, with the parents being disappointed, angry and upset with how Scooby is acting and his announcement that he's not going to college. This leads to some scenes of yelling, etc.
  • A family reacts to and must deal with a son being paralyzed and then in a coma from a football accident.
  • Mikey finds Consuelo crying and learns that her son was executed in prison (for rape and murder).
  • A family member returns home to find the rest of his family dead (and sees their bodies being brought out in body bags).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Storytelling and its different forms.
  • Family dynamics.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Casual sex.
  • Mikey asks Consuelo why she has so many kids, and she replies that it's God's will. Mikey then asks if she believes in God and after a pause, she says "no."
  • Being gay.
  • Young people who have no direction in life.
  • Mikey finds Consuelo crying and learns that her son was executed in prison (for rape and murder). Mikey then asks what rape is, and she tries her best to answer that (considering his age), by saying that it's when you love someone who doesn't love you, and you then do something about that.
  • Hypnosis - Mikey hypnotizes his father who complies with his subconscious commands.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Brady briefly smacks Mikey on the back of the head, causing the two to briefly smack at each other.
  • A football player is tackled quite hard and ends up in a coma.
  • Scooby images his mother and father burning on the stake (with them screaming, but the scene doesn't look completely realistic).
  • A person turns on the gas inside a house and puts rags under the doors to prevent it from escaping and then leaves. This eventually results in the deaths of those inside (we don't see the deaths, but do later see the bodies being taken out in body bags).



  • Reviewed February 2, 2002 / Posted February 8, 2002

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