[Screen It]

 

"THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE"
(2001) (Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A taciturn barber sets into a motion a series of disastrous events when he tries to jumpstart his dissatisfied life by blackmailing his wife's lover.
PLOT:
It's the summer of 1949 in a small Northern California town and Ed Crane (BILLY BOB THORNTON) is the local barber who works with his brother-in-law Frank (MICHAEL BADALUCCO). Rather introspective and quiet, Ed lets Frank chew the fat with the customers, seemingly content to smoke and watch the world go by.

Yet, beneath the calm demeanor, Ed isn't happy with his life. He suspects that his wife, Doris (FRANCES MCDORMAND), is having an affair with her boss, Big Dave (JAMES GANDOLFINI), who's married to the heiress, Ann Nirdlinger (KATHERINE BOROWITZ), of the department store where they work.

Thus, when traveling businessman Creighton Tolliver (JON POLITO) arrives in the barber chair promising bright returns for investments in a newfangled process called dry cleaning, Ed gets an idea. By blackmailing Big Dave, he can not only get revenge on him, but also raise the money needed to invest in Creighton's plan.

Things go as planned until someone ends up dead and Ed learns that Doris is being charged. Seeking advice from his non-criminal lawyer friend Walter Abundas (RICHARD JENKINS), whose teenager daughter, Birdy (SCARLETT JOHANSSON), and her piano playing have caught his attention, Ed hires hotshot defense attorney Freddy Riedenschneider (TONY SHALHOUB) to defend his wife.

From that point on, Ed's world is turned upside down as he tries to do both what's right and what seems like will make him happy.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or the previous works of Joel and Ethan Coen ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?" "Fargo"), it doesn't seem very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For a scene of violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BILLY BOB THORNTON plays a taciturn barber who's content to chain smoke his way through life. When an opportunity arises to not only change his life but also get back at his wife and her boss for having an affair, he sets into motion a disastrous chain of events that begins with him blackmailing Dave and includes killing someone in self-defense.
  • FRANCES McDORMAND plays his unfaithful wife who's not only having an affair with her boss, but has also been cooking the books. She also drinks in one scene to the point of passing out.
  • MICHAEL BADALUCCO plays Ed's talkative brother-in-law who's happy being a barber until his world is turned upside down with the others.
  • JAMES GANDOLFINI plays Doris' boss who's been having an affair with her and attacks Ed when he learns of his plan.
  • KATHERINE BOROWITZ plays his mousy wife who claims he was abducted by aliens sometime in the past.
  • JON POLITO plays a somewhat shady businessman who wants others to invest in his dry cleaning business.
  • RICHARD JENKINS plays a lawyer friend of Ed's who seems to be drinking/intoxicated all of the time.
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON plays his teenage daughter who willingly wants to perform oral sex on Ed after he's spent so much time trying to promote and help her musical future.
  • TONY SHALHOUB plays a high priced and high-maintenance lawyer hired by Ed to defend his wife. He uses some profanity.
  • 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. Violence consists of a man fatally stabbing another man in the neck in self-defense after being attacked (there's blood, but it's in black and white). Other deaths and injuries occur, but mostly do so off-screen. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes that involve murder, blackmail and extramarital affairs (which leads to some immediate and later tense family scenes during to various actions/repercussions).

    Profanity consists of various mild expletives, while both colorful and religious phrases are also uttered. Some non-explicit, sexually related comments are made, while a young girl willingly prepares to perform oral sex on an older man against his wishes (which results in a car crash, but nothing is seen). In another scene, a man makes a subdued homosexual pass at a heterosexual man.

    Meanwhile, the protagonist smokes throughout the film and also drinks, as do other characters, some of which are intoxicated. Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what's present in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Doris has a drink, as does Ann and Big Dave.
  • Creighton pours himself a drink and gives one to Ed.
  • Big Dave drinks.
  • Some people drink at a wedding, including Doris who's eventually rather intoxicated and then later passed out.
  • Doris has a flask and we hear Ed stating that she could really put it (liquor) away.
  • We see that Dave has been drinking.
  • Walter drinks.
  • After Ann tells Ed a wild sounding story, he asks if she wants to come in, sit down and have a drink.
  • Walter drinks and nearly seems ready to pass out.
  • Freddy has wine with a meal.
  • Ed and another man have drinks.
  • Doris has a drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Blood runs from a man's neck (after he's stabbed there by another person in self defense) and then runs across the floor next to his body (all in black and white).
  • Ed has some bruises and dried cuts on his face after a car accident.
  • We see a dead body in a car under water, but beyond being dead, it's not bloody or gory.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • We learn that Doris is having an affair with her boss, Big Dave, who admits to embezzling from his own wife.
  • As Big Dave talks about WWII, he uses the term "Japs." Someone later uses the term "Wop" and the term "Nips" (for Japanese) is also used.
  • Creighton doesn't pay attention to Frank telling him their shop is closed and barges in anyway.
  • Tired of his life, Doris cheating on him with Big Dave, and needing $10,000 to buy into Creighton's plan, Ed decides to blackmail Big Dave for the money/revenge.
  • Some man says, "Check out that rack" about a woman's chest.
  • Doris states that she hates "Wops" as they go to a wedding in her family.
  • Dave admits that he had to beat the truth (about who blackmailed him) out of Creighton (but we don't see the beating).
  • Doris admits "cooking the books" where she worked.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Dave admits that he had to beat the truth (about who blackmailed him) out of Creighton (but we don't see the beating). He then grabs Ed in a bear hug and throws him to a table where he slides him across it into a wall. He then repeatedly punches him, smashes him into some glass and tries to strangle him. As the glass window behind Ed starts to fracture, he stabs Big Dave in the neck with some sort of knife, causing a great deal of blood to run from Dave's neck as he falls to the floor gurgling. We then see blood (in black and white) spreading across the floor.
  • The sight of a person being strapped into an electric chair (in a very surreal and stylized type scene) might be unsettling or disturbing to some viewers (but we don't see the execution).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Gun: Fired into the air to start a pie-eating contest.
  • Knife of some sort: Used by a man to stab another in the neck in self-defense.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Babes" (women), "Nuts" (crazy), "What the hell are you talking about?" "Pansy," "Go to hell," "Knucklehead," "Screw him," "Screw" (nonsexual), "Shot to hell," "Oh, hell," "The hell with it," "Nut case," "Screwy," "Fat ass" and "Jeez."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A minor bit of dramatically suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 slang term for breasts ("rack"), 8 hells, 5 damns, 4 S.O.B.s, 2 asses, 1 crap, 15 uses of "G-damn," 5 of "Jesus," 2 of "Oh Jesus" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Jesus Christ" and "Christ Almighty" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see Doris in her slip as she tries on clothes.
  • Doris asks Ed to shave her legs while she's in a bathtub (we see her bare legs, but nothing else and he's dressed and outside the tub).
  • After Creighton pours drinks for himself and Ed, Ed asks if that was a pass, Creighton says maybe, and Ed then tells the salesman that he's out of line.
  • Some man says, "Check out that rack" about a woman's chest.
  • Ed tells someone, "My wife and I had not performed the sex act in many years."
  • After Ed tries to get her accepted into a music program and on their way back from her audition in his car, she rubs his knee and then kisses his cheek. She then leans over toward his lap and he tries to stop her. She repeatedly states that she wants to do it (oral sex) to make him happy, that she doesn't mind doing it, and so she then puts her head down to his crotch (we then only see him still seated upright in the car). A car crash ends that, however, and nothing else happens.
  • SMOKING
  • Ed smokes throughout the film (more than 30 times), while he shares cigars with Dave in another scene. Doris briefly takes a drag from one of his cigarettes, while various miscellaneous people also smoke.
  • After Birdy tells Ed that he can't smoke in her bedroom, she admits that she sometimes has a cigarette when her dad is away.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Doris is having an affair with Dave and that puts some strain on her marriage to Ed.
  • A supporting character deals with the death of her husband, while a man deals with the death of his wife.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • That there's no easy way of getting/making money (Ed trying to blackmail Dave for money to use for an investment, etc.).
  • The film noir style of filmmaking.
  • Capital punishment.
  • We hear that a person hanged themselves (but we don't see anything).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Dave admits that he had to beat the truth (about who blackmailed him) out of Creighton (but we don't see the beating). He then grabs Ed in a bear hug and throws him to a table where he slides him across it into a wall. He then repeatedly punches him, smashes him into some glass and tries to strangle him. As the glass window behind Ed starts to fracture, he stabs Big Dave in the neck with some sort of knife, causing a great deal of blood to run from Dave's neck as he falls to the floor gurgling. We then see blood (in black and white) spreading across the floor.
  • We hear that a person hanged themselves (but we don't see anything).
  • Two people are injured in a car crash (not seen).
  • We see a dead body in a car under water, but beyond being dead, it's not bloody or gory (although we hear that the man was beaten to death).
  • Frank suddenly punches Ed in the face during a trial.



  • Reviewed October 12, 2001 / Posted November 2, 2001

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [Collateral Beauty] [La La Land] [Manchester By The Sea] [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.