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"SIGNS"
(2002) (Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix) (PG-13)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Suspense/Thriller: A family deals with what increasingly looks like an alien invasion that's taking place across the world and on their small, rural farm.
PLOT:
Graham Hess (MEL GIBSON) is a single father who's raising his kids, Morgan (RORY CULKIN) and Bo (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), on their Bucks County, PA farm. A former reverend, Graham has given up religion due to the untimely death of his wife, Colleen (PATRICIA KALEMBER), some six months ago in an incident that involved local veterinarian Ray Reddy (M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN).

Local police officer Caroline Paski (CHERRY JONES) tries to help out, while Graham's younger adult brother, Merrill (JOAQUIN PHOENIX), has moved in to do the same. That all changes, however, when large and unexplained crop circles suddenly show up in the family's cornfield.

Their fascination with them turns into horror when they see TV footage that not only shows similar circles appearing around the world, but also indicate what looks like the beginning of an invasion by extraterrestrial visitors. As things progressively worsen, the family finds both their safety and beliefs severely tested.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast, the film's director (of "The Sixth Sense" fame) or scary movies, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some frightening moments.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MEL GIBSON plays a widowed former reverend who's lost his religious faith (from having his wife die) and is trying to raise his kids when the weird events begins and threaten all of them. He uses some brief profanity.
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX plays his younger brother and former minor league baseball star who's agreed to live on the farm and help around the house. He uses some brief profanity.
  • RORY CULKIN plays Graham's son who's obsessed with extraterrestrials and use some brief profanity.
  • ABIGAIL BRESLIN plays his younger sister who develops a dislike of tap water.
  • CHERRY JONES plays the local police officer who tries to help Graham and his family deal with their loss.
  • M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN plays a local veterinarian who's racked with grief over his involvement with Colleen's accidental death.
  • 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 suspense/thriller that's been rated PG-13. Many scenes (including jump ones) and the overall creepy and spooky score and aura may be unsettling, suspenseful or downright scary to young and older viewers alike, as the film's family has various encounters (seen and otherwise implied) with alien invaders. Some of them are violent (attacking one with a baseball bat, cutting off another's fingers, etc.) and have some mildly bloody/gory results.

    Profanity consists of at least 3 uses of the "s" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also heard. Thematic issues involve spiritualism, religion and fate vs. chance, while tense family moments include the loss of a wife/mother (in flashbacks) and some emotional confrontations. Meanwhile, a character is briefly seen holding a cigarette in two scenes.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see some dog urine on the kitchen floor.
  • After Bo is cautious about giving the family dog what she believes is bad water, Morgan reminds her that the dog "licks his butt" everyday so that he probably won't mind.
  • We see a tiny bit of blood on the end of a large barbeque carving fork that was used to kill a dog.
  • A man has a little bit of blood on his shirt.
  • We briefly see an alien creature's hand that has nubs where some of its fingers had been.
  • An alien's skin is burned and bloody after water comes into contact with it.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers might not like Graham having given up on religion after his wife's untimely death and for him saying that there is no one watching out for us and that we're on are own (he eventually does have a change of heart, however, on such matters).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense, suspenseful or scary to some viewers, as might much of the overall film as the intensity of all of the bizarre and creepy extraterrestrial activity (on TV and at the farm) intensifies as the story progresses.
  • Graham suddenly wakes up and hears some distant screaming sounds. He and Merrill then race through the cornfield to look for the kids (who they find and appear to be in a daze as we then see that a huge crop circle is present).
  • The family dog suddenly jerks upright and then menacingly growls at Morgan and Bo.
  • Bo wakes up Graham and says that there's a monster outside her window. After a few moments, he sees what looks like a figure on top of the roof. He and Merrill then go outside, believing it to a local boy up to no good, and run around the house, but don't see anyone. They then hear something on the roof and then see that it's somehow passed them and gone into the cornfield behind them.
  • The baby monitor Morgan is carrying (as a one-way walkie-talkie) begins picking up weird sounds.
  • Noticing one of the family dogs going crazy and barking at night, Graham takes a flashlight and slowly makes his way through the tall and thick cornfield. He hears weird sounds, spins around and eventually drops his flashlight. He then picks it up and sees a glimpse of what looks like a leg of some sort going into the crops off an open alley (he then runs away).
  • The family looks through a book about extraterrestrials and sees a drawing of a house that looks very much like theirs that's on fire from laser beams fired from a nearby flying saucer (and there are three bodies on the ground).
  • Graham goes to a man's house and looks inside the windows where he sees things in disarray and notes that the phone is off the hook. When he finally talks to the owner who's hastily leaving town, that owner tells him not to open his pantry since he has "one" trapped inside there. Moments later, Graham slowly makes his way into the house and sees that furniture is jammed against the pantry door where he can see the shadow of something moving around inside there from the light under the door. It stops when he talks (acting like he's a cop) and he then slowly crouches down to the floor and tries to look under the door (all done in a very quiet scene). He then decides to use a sharp knife as a mirror of sorts to look under the door and after a moment or two, a clawed hand suddenly comes under the door.
  • TV news footage shows home video footage of a brief shot of an alien walking past an alley (it takes a while before that happens and we don't know what we're going to see before it does).
  • More weird noises emanate from the baby monitor and we then see that only test signals are being broadcast on TV. The family then scrambles to nail boards across their windows and doors to the upstairs rooms. They then hear the dog barking and growling, and then squealing before silence follows.
  • They then hear sounds of the aliens just outside of the boarded up house and then see that they're trying to get in (we don't see the aliens). We then hear that the creatures are on the roof and then inside the house on the upper floors. Merrill then remembers that they didn't nail the attic door shut (as he slowly makes his way up the stairs). We then see claws coming underneath a door.
  • The family then retreats to the basement where Graham tries to hold the door shut as something on the other side tries the doorknob and Merrill scrambles to find something to wedge against it. He does, but inadvertently breaks the lone light bulb in the process, plunging them into darkness (we hear sounds and scary music).
  • Morgan finds a flashlight and we see Morgan and Merrill trying to hold the door shut when they realize Bo is missing. They find her hiding and we then hear more sounds at the door. They then try to find an old coal chute that the aliens could use to get in and then try to close that when a clawed hand suddenly grabs Morgan through the chute (we then hear sounds of struggling).
  • Morgan has a bad asthma attack and Graham tries to get him through it without access to his inhaler or medicine.
  • We see a flashback where we're told that a person's body has been pinned and essentially cut in half by a car against a tree. We see the victim - who we're told won't live long - but don't see any of the blood or gore.
  • Merrill slowly makes his way up the basement steps and through the house, unsure of whether the aliens are still there or not. Moments later, they see that one alien creature is in the living room and then see that it's holding Morgan in a menacing fashion. Merrill then repeatedly strikes the creature with a baseball bat as Graham tries to save Morgan from his asthma attack.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None, although the family looks through a book about extraterrestrials and sees a drawing of a house that looks very much like theirs that's on fire from laser beams fired from a nearby flying saucer.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Sh*t, I know you," "That's bullsh*t," "It's time for an ass whooping," "Make them crap their pants," "I'm gonna beat your ass, bitch" (said toward a figure believed to be a man), "What in God's name is going on?" "Class A screw-up," "Bastard," "Douche bag," "Stupid crap," "Nerds" and "Lucky as hell."
  • Morgan and others climb onto the top of the family car to get better reception on a baby monitor (used to pick up weird signals).
  • Morgan and Bo have aluminum foil on their heads (so that the aliens can't read their minds).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The family dog suddenly jerks upright and then menacingly growls at Morgan and Bo.
  • Another dog suddenly lunges forward.
  • The telephone suddenly rings in an otherwise quiet scene.
  • A clawed hand suddenly comes under a closed pantry door.
  • A sudden sound might startle some viewers.
  • A clawed hand suddenly grabs Morgan.
  • Sudden music might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of such music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 3 "s" words, 3 asses, 2 craps, 1 damn and 1 hell used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A local military recruiter asks Merrill why he isn't in the pros making stacks of cash and getting his toes licked by beautiful women (after remembering that he was quite the baseball player).
  • SMOKING
  • We twice see Merrill holding a lit cigarette.
  • Caroline mentions some stranger who had a fit when they didn't have her favorite cigarettes in a vending machine.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We learn that Graham's wife is dead (with him raising their two kids with the help of his adult brother) and then learn and see more as the story progresses (including that of her being killed in an accident and him getting to be with her during her last moments of life).
  • Morgan tells Merrill that he wishes Merrill was his dad (Merrill tells him never to say that) and then says that he hates his dad to his face when Graham won't pray before dinner (he also accuses his dad of letting his mom die). Everyone ends up crying and then in a group hug.
  • Morgan has a bad asthma attack and Graham tries to get him through it without access to his inhaler or medicine (and Graham says, "Don't do this to me again" - talking to God).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Crop circles, explanations for them, and this film's view of them.
  • The possibility of alien invaders.
  • Graham mentioning that there are two ways to look at the world - either someone (meaning God) is watching out for you, or everything is sheer luck and/or coincidence and that you're on your own.
  • Asthma.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see that Morgan has apparently killed one of the family's dogs with a large barbeque carving fork (we don't see the act, but do see Caroline pull the utensil from the dog's body, and Morgan states the menacing dog jumped on him and impaled itself).
  • The family looks through a book about extraterrestrials and sees a drawing of a house that looks very much like theirs that's on fire from laser beams fired from a nearby flying saucer (and there are three bodies on the ground).
  • A clawed hand suddenly comes under a closed pantry door and Graham uses a large kitchen knife to cut off some of its fingers (we only briefly see the impact).
  • We see a flashback where we're told that a person's body has been pinned and essentially cut in half by a car against a tree. We see the victim - who we're told won't live long - but don't see any of the blood or gore.
  • We hear that the aliens killed many humans, but don't see any scenes of that.
  • Merrill repeatedly hits an alien creature with a baseball bat after it tries to poison Morgan with some sort of deadly gas. During this, some tap water spills onto the creature, burning its skin. After hitting it some more, a large amount of water spills onto the creature, presumably killing it (we don't see the impact).



  • Reviewed July 23, 2002 / Posted August 2, 2002

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