[Screen It]


(2002) (Matthew McConaughey, Alan Arkin) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Moderate Extreme Minor None
Mild None Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Mild Moderate Moderate Moderate

Drama: Accidents and the efforts of others change various people's view of themselves, their world, and happiness and despair.
Troy (MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY) is a successful attorney in the D.A.'s office who doesn't believe in luck and views the world in a positive light. Yet, when he's involved in a hit and run accident, his life and his view of everything changes forever. Walker (JOHN TURTURRO) is a physics instructor who's cheating on his wife, Patricia (AMY IRVING), by having an affair with Helen (BARBARA SUKOWA), a fellow teacher. Despite his repeated proclamations of cause and effect, he doesn't seem to realize he's causing his marriage to fail.

Beatrice (CLEA DuVALL) and Dorrie (TIA TEXADA) are housecleaners who have different views of life. While Dorrie is a bit pessimistic while also envious of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Beatrice is optimistic about life and believes that wonderful things will happen. Something does, but it's not wonderful and it changes her view of life forever.

Meanwhile, Gene English (ALAN ARKIN) and Dick Lacey (FRANKIE FAISON) are managers in an insurance claims deparment who can't believe how perpetually cheerful and optimistic one of their workers, Wade Bowman (WILLIAM WISE), always is. While Gene can tolerate other employees such as Mickey Wheeler (SHAWN ELLIOT), Wade's eternal happiness drives him crazy. Accordingly, and while having to deal with his delinquent, drug addict of a young adult son, Ronnie (ALEX BURNS), Gene sets out to upset Wade's applecart of good cheer.

As he does so, the various characters' paths and lives cross, directly and indirectly influencing certain occurrences that change their views of themselves, their world and their thoughts about the balance of happiness and despair.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem very likely.
For language and brief drug use.
  • MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY plays a lawyer who's happy with his career and life until he accidentally hits a woman on the street (after having a few drinks) and then leaves the scene, believing her to be dead. He then reexamines his life and attitude. He also uses some strong profanity and drinks.
  • JOHN TURTURRO plays a physics instructor who's having an affair with another teacher and growing distant from his wife.
  • AMY IRVING plays his wife who senses that their relationship is failing. She smokes several times.
  • BARBARA SUKOWA plays the other married woman that Walker is seeing. She smokes once.
  • CLEA DuVALL plays a housecleaner whose optimistic view of life is shattered by several occurrences. She smokes once.
  • TIA TEXADA plays her friend who doesn't share her optimism.
  • ALAN ARKIN plays an insurance claims manager who has a bitter attitude toward life and most everyone in his path, especially Wade whose perpetual cheeriness drives him crazy. He briefly drinks.
  • FRANKIE FAISON plays another manager who works alongside Gene.
  • WILLIAM WISE plays the perpetually happy and optimistic worker who drives Gene crazy because of his positive attitude.
  • ALEX BURNS plays Gene's delinquent son who's also apparently a drug addict.


    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).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 6 uses of the "f" word, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also heard. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including a married man having an affair (we see the married mistress finishing getting dressed after apparent sex) and a man leaving the scene of a hit and run accident where he believes he's killed a young woman.

    That scene and others have a bit of bloody results (including a later scene where the above man reopens his small head wound with a razor blade) while tense family material involves a married couple splitting up and a father dealing with his troubled and apparently drug addicted son (we briefly see the son shooting up in an alley).

    Meanwhile, various characters drink and/or smoke. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • People drink in a bar, including Gene who drinks by himself and Troy who orders another round of drinks for himself and his coworkers (we later see part of a repeat of this scene, with Dick joining Gene for a drink).
  • We see some wine in Troy's refrigerator and he then pours himself a drink (and drinks by himself).
  • We see Ronnie shooting up (presumably heroin) in an alley, but don't see the actual insertion, although we do see his reaction to the drugs.
  • Patricia has a drink.
  • An associate invites Troy for drinks, but Troy declines the offer.
  • We see that Walker has a black eye (from where someone hit him, an occurrence that we don't see).
  • After Troy accidentally strikes a woman with his car, he has some blood on the side of his head, while the victim has some blood on her face (we see her when we revisit the scene later).
  • The next day, Troy has some blood from that wound on his head again, and we see a splat of it on his notepad (which he rubs with his finger). We then possibly see him briefly vomiting in a sink.
  • Patricia has some blood on her hand after trying to pick up some broken glass.
  • We see the above hit and run victim in the hospital with two black eyes, other bruises and her arm in a cast.
  • Troy removes a razor blade from a razor and then purposefully reopens the wound on the side of his face (we briefly see the blade cutting the skin with some resultant blood).
  • Gene has a bad attitude toward life and most everyone in his path, especially Wade (since he can't stand his perpetual cheeriness and optimism). He eventually fires him (using an excuse of having to cut back office expenses), mostly out of spite (but does later get him a job with another company).
  • Troy leaves the scene of a crime after hitting a woman on the street (and believing that he killed her).
  • A student is disrespectful to Walker while he teaches.
  • Walker and Helen have an affair (both are married to others).
  • A man refers to a generic wife as "the ball and chain."
  • We see that Gene's neighbor has apparently stolen his morning newspaper.
  • Ronnie is in jail again and shows no gratitude toward his father for bailing him out (he also smokes in a building where he's told not to). He also steals a woman's purse and doesn't show up for his court date.
  • Some viewers might not like Dick commenting about a court case where it's said that faith is the antithesis of proof.
  • Troy removes a razor blade from a razor and then purposefully reopens the wound on the side of his face (we briefly see the blade cutting the skin with some resultant blood).
  • None.
  • Phrases: "F*ck guilt," "Punk," "Idiot," "Go to hell," "You pathetic loser," "Ass kissers" and "Bitch."
  • A miscellaneous young woman has a pierced nostril (with a ring/hoop through it).
  • Troy removes a razor blade from a razor and then purposefully reopens the wound on the side of his face (we briefly see the blade cutting the skin with some resultant blood).
  • None.
  • A tiny bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 6 "f" words (with another written as an onscreen title), 3 damns, 1 ass, 1 hell, 1 S.O.B., 2 uses each of "Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Christ," "For God's sakes," "Oh God," "Oh Lord" and "Oh my good God" as exclamations.
  • We see Helen finishing getting dressed after apparently having sex with Walker (we only see a bit of cleavage as well as their used bedding).
  • Patricia and Ronnie each smoke several times, while Dorrie and Helen each smoke once and some miscellaneous characters also smoke in a few scenes.
  • Walker and Helen have an affair (both are married to others), and we then see that he and Patricia have split up (after she discovered he was having the affair).
  • We hear that Gene is divorced and that his son is perpetually in trouble (he bails Ronnie out, but the son shows no gratitude).
  • The message(s) the film is trying to impart about life, happiness and despair, and our place/reason for being in this world.
  • Why Troy left the scene of the crime of accidentally hitting a woman with his car (possibly because he had two drinks before getting behind the wheel).
  • We hear about (but don't see) some accounts of violence including someone holding up and cold-cocking Walker with a gun (resulting in a black eye), a man stealing another person's camera and causing them to fall and die from hitting their head, and that one of Walker's students apparently jumped to his death.
  • Troy accidentally hits a woman with his car, severely injuring her (he thinks she's dead, as do we for a while) and giving him a small, bloody cut on the side of his head. We don't see the actual impact, and later see the aftermath of the scene again (with the victim having some blood beneath her nose and we later see her in the hospital with black eyes, bruises, a broken arm and see that she must have had brain surgery as she has little or no hair).
  • Patricia accidentally cuts her hand while picking up some broken glass (we see some blood on her hand).
  • Troy removes a razor blade from a razor and then purposefully reopens the wound on the side of his face (we briefly see the blade cutting the skin with some resultant blood).

  • Reviewed June 7, 2002 / Posted June 14, 2002

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