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"21 GRAMS"
(2003) (Sean Penn, Naomi Watts) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A fatal car accident involves and then intertwines the lives of several people in ways they never could have imagined.
PLOT:
Paul (SEAN PENN) and Mary Rivers (CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG) are an unhappily married couple who are going through some rough times. Unable to get pregnant the traditional way, Mary wants to try artificial insemination. Yet, Paul isn't keen on having kids, particularly since he may not be around to see or raise them due to being quite sick and awaiting a heart transplant.

Cristina Peck (NAOMI WATTS) is a former party girl who's left the drug scene behind to be a loving wife to Michael (DANNY HUSTON) and mother of their two kids. Jack Jordan (BENICIO DEL TORO) has also changed his ways. A former convict, he's now turned to religion in hopes that it will make him a better person, husband to Marianne (MELISSA LEO) and good father to their two kids.

When an unexpected traffic accident occurs, however, the lives of all of those people become intertwined in ways that none of them could have imagined, rocking their very existence and making them question themselves and the world in which they live.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens or those who are fans of anyone in the cast may want to, but that's probably it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, sexuality, some violence and drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SEAN PENN plays a college professor who's awaiting a heart transplant and, after eventually receiving one, becomes obsessed with the donor's widowed wife and getting revenge on the person who led to all of that. He has a rocky marriage (and thus an affair), smokes and uses strong profanity.
  • CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG plays his wife who wants to have his child via artificial insemination with or without him as the father. She uses strong profanity.
  • NAOMI WATTS plays a former party girl turned wife and mother who returns to drugs and completely unravels when tragedy strikes her family. She also drinks, smokes a few times and has sex with Paul.
  • BENICIO DEL TORO plays a tattooed former convict who's used religion as his crux in trying to reshape his life. When he's involved in a fatal accident, however, his belief is shaken to the core. He uses profanity, smokes a few times and returns to drinking.
  • MELISSA LEO plays his wife who's never keen on his faith but stands by him when things get really bad. She uses some strong profanity and briefly smokes.
  • 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 brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 28 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present (some of it explicit), while some sexual encounters are seen. They include movement, sounds, nudity, implied off-camera oral sex and one scene shows footage from a porno film (with more movement, nudity and sounds). Nonsexual nudity (breasts and butts) is also present.

    Violence consists of two suicide attempts (by hanging and shooting), some fighting and a man threatening to shoot another man. Some of that has bloody results and may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while an extreme amount of tense family material (strained marriages, deaths in the family, etc.) occurs.

    Various people smoke and/or drink, while one woman does cocaine and takes other drugs in pill form (and reacts to that). Finally, all sorts of thematic elements (grief, organ donation, abortion, artificial insemination, etc.) are also present.

    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
  • Cristina snorts some coke in a bathroom.
  • A miscellaneous person has a beer.
  • Cristina has a drink.
  • Paul follows Cristina into a wine store where we see many bottles of wine.
  • Marianne and sister sneak beer at a party before Jack comes home.
  • Jack's former boss offers to buy him a couple of beers, but Jack says that he doesn't drink.
  • We see Cristina having a drink (the same from an earlier scene).
  • Miscellaneous people drink in a bar.
  • Paul, Mary and others have wine.
  • Miscellaneous people have beer.
  • Cristina drinks straight vodka at her family's wake.
  • We hear that Jack is an ex-con who had problems with drugs and alcohol in the past.
  • Cristina and others drink in a bar.
  • An old drug dealer friend of Cristina's states that she has angle dust, special K and R2. Cristina takes two pills of the latter that the friend tells her will send her straight to Heaven. She's later high and belligerent from that.
  • We see Cristina in her panties carrying a bottle of liquor and she then gets into bed with Paul who's sleeping.
  • Cristina carries a bottle of liquor with her.
  • Paul and Cristina have wine.
  • Jack has a beer.
  • Paul finds Cristina's cocaine.
  • Jack drinks liquor straight from the bottle.
  • Cristina snorts coke (from an above scene).
  • Cristina is told that her blood can't be used for a transfusion due to the presence of drugs in it.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a shaky shot that briefly/partially shows Paul with blood on his foot and clothing, while more blood is on the wall and there's some on Jack.
  • A doctor shows Paul his old heart that's now in a jar (with some slightly bloody-looking water or liquid around it).
  • We see a covered body on the street with a little bit of blood on the sheet.
  • Marianne wipes her finger on the front of Jack's truck and comes up with blood on it.
  • We see a shot where Cristina is cradling Paul in a car. He's very bloody and she has his blood on her as well.
  • Paul coughs up vomit in his car.
  • Jack heats a knife with a lighter and then uses it to start to remove a large tattoo on his arm (we see the first cut with some resultant blood).
  • Paul vomits from being ill.
  • In a sequence with jumpy camera work and partial views and following other violence, Paul steps on some glass and cuts his foot, and then shoots himself in the chest (we hear, but don't see the shooting, but do see the bloody results).
  • We see another view of Paul being rather bloody in a car and Cristina has some blood on her.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A young thug tells Jack (about Jesus), "He doesn't give a sh*t about us."
  • For those concerned with such matters, Mary admits to having had an abortion in the past (which is preventing her from getting pregnant).
  • Jack's son hits his sister, prompting Jack to make him hit his sister on the other arm. Once she and her mother are gone, however, Jack slaps his son on the head twice.
  • Marianne attempts to cover for Jack being involved in a fatal hit and run accident.
  • We hear that Jack is an ex-con who had problems with drugs and alcohol in the past (as well as committing other crimes).
  • Cristina is belligerent while high on drugs.
  • Paul illegally buys a handgun from a man (to be used on someone).
  • Paul has an affair with Cristina despite still being married to Mary (although their marriage is quite strained and on its last legs).
  • Paul lies about killing a man (he didn't).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to viewers.
  • A man tries to hang himself in jail, but ends up nearly strangling himself until the pipe he's tied to breaks and sends him falling to the floor.
  • We see a gardener using a leaf blower. We then see Jack's truck pass by, hear the sound of a crash, and then see the gardener take off running toward the accident (that we don't see).
  • Paul holds a gun on Jack and then pushes him along as he takes him out into the desert. There, he makes him get on his knees, throws some dirt at him, aims his gun at him and then fires several times, but we don't see if he shoots him or not.
  • Paul learns that his new heart is also giving out, that he might die a lot sooner than he thought, and that such a death will be horrific.
  • For those sensitive to such matters, we see a needle going into Cristina's arm for a blood donation, but don't see any resultant blood.
  • Jack heats a knife with a lighter and then uses it to start to remove a large tattoo on his arm (we see the first cut with some resultant blood).
  • Paul shoots near Jack, but purposefully does so into the ground near him.
  • In a sequence with jumpy camera work and partial views, Jack pushes a door open and tells Paul to shoot him. He grabs Paul's hand and gun and places the latter to his own neck. Cristina then repeatedly hits Jack with a lamp, there's some struggling, Paul steps on some glass and cuts his foot, and then shoots himself in the chest (we hear, but don't see the shooting, but do see the bloody results).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun: Illegally purchased and then used to threaten and shoot near a man (purposefully missing him). See "Violence" for more details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Fuck you," "Bad m*therf*ck," "For f*ck's sake," "They're going to f*ck me too," "Flush it down the f*cking toilet," "What the f*ck?" "Stupid f*cking asshole," "I don't have the slightest idea who the f*ck you are," "How f*cking dare you?" "Get the f*ck out of my house," "I don't want your f*cking pity," "No sh*t," "That's bullsh*t," "Sh*tty," "You don't need that sh*t," "Punk," "Cripple," "Shut up" and "Bastard."
  • Jack has various tattoos on his body.
  • Marianne has a stud in her nostril.
  • Cristina's sister playfully gives her "the finger."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 28 "f" words (2 used with "mother," 1 used sexually), 9 "s" words, 4 asses (all used with "hole"), 3 S.O.B.s, 1 damn, 1 hell, 6 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh God," 4 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "God," "Oh God" and "Swear to God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see part of Cristina's bare breasts as she sleeps (from the hip down is below a sheet). Paul is behind her and is apparently nude, but her body blocks his so nothing else is seen.
  • Cristina shows a little cleavage in a one-piece bathing suit that also shows a lot of thigh and hip.
  • Paul comes up behind Mary and gropes her breasts (she's in her nightgown), but she doesn't want to fool around. There is talk, however, of donating sperm.
  • A doctor preps Paul for making a sperm donation. He tells Paul to try to make it all land in the receptacle. He then opens a drawer and shows him some porno mags (with bare breasts) "in case you need inspiration," and then turns on a porno movie on the TV. It briefly shows (from the side) a nude man thrusting between a nude woman's legs (we see the man's bare butt, part of hers and hear related sounds).
  • A guy at a party jokes about safe sex by asking, "What time does her husband get home?"
  • After Mary announces to their friends that she and Paul are going to try artificial insemination to get pregnant, a male friend makes fun of Paul saying that he "no longer has any lead in your pencil" (while making his finger droop).
  • An old friend of Cristina's asks her about her husband (not knowing he's dead), "Is he a good lay?"
  • We see Cristina in her panties carrying a bottle of liquor and she then gets into bed with Paul who's sleeping.
  • We see Cristina in her red panties and asleep on her side.
  • We see Jack and Marianne preparing to have sex with heavy breathing and lots of sensuality. She's up on a table and he's between her legs (we briefly see her hand down there), but we don't see any nudity and he stops when thoughts of his hit and run accident overwhelm him.
  • Cristina and Paul do some passionate kissing with heavy breathing, but something he tells her puts a halt on that passion.
  • The next morning, however, she goes and gets him and we then see some passionate kissing and then a close-up of him on top of her. He sucks on her bare breast and presumably performs oral sex on her just out of the camera shot (we see her reaction as well as more shots of her bare breasts). We then see a head and shoulders shot of him on top of her and then vice-versa. We again see her bare breasts and some movement, but no contact in the pelvic region.
  • We see the side of Paul's bare butt as he sits on a bed (from an above scene seen from a different angle). We then see her bare breasts again as she sleeps and then when she's awake and sitting up (in the background of that second shot we can see Paul's bare butt as he sleeps lying face down).
  • Cristina tells Paul (about her dead husband), "You're in his house f*cking his wife."
  • SMOKING
  • Paul smokes more than 5 times (and does so despite being on oxygen and wheezing in at least one scene), Cristina and Jack each smoke several times, Marianne smokes once and various miscellaneous characters smoke in several scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Jack's son hits his sister, prompting Jack to make him hit his sister on the other arm. Once she and her mother are gone, however, Jack slaps his son on the head twice.
  • Paul and Mary's marriage is troubled, with his illness, her insistence of getting pregnant and having a baby without him and him learning of her previous abortion putting a greater strain on it. We also hear that they were separated in the past.
  • Cristina receives a phone call informing her to come to the hospital right away. There, she learns that her daughters are dead and that her husband is brain dead.
  • Cristina must deal with losing her husband and their two kids (that includes grief, anger, disassociation, smelling her kids' clothes, attending the wake, repeatedly listening to her husband's last phone call, and visiting the site of the accident).
  • There's brief talk about when Cristina's mother died and her father saying he didn't think he could go on living (but did).
  • Jack's young kids question whether he killed a father and his two girls (he says he did, while Marianne says he didn't). Earlier, the son was reluctant to greet him when he came home from prison.
  • Paul has an affair with Cristina despite still being married to Mary (although their marriage is quite strained and on its last legs).
  • Jack calls home and Marianne is mad at him for having left home.
  • Paul returns home to find Mary packing and moving out (after he's been gone for several days).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • How unexpected events often bring people together in ways they couldn't have imagined.
  • The comment that guilt will suck you down to the bone.
  • We see Paul on a ventilator and with many tubes sticking out of him in a hospital.
  • For those concerned with such matters, Mary admits to having had an abortion in the past (which is preventing her from getting pregnant).
  • Guilt.
  • Abortion.
  • Artificial insemination.
  • Organ donation and transplants.
  • Loss.
  • Death in the family.
  • Hit and run accidents.
  • When Marianne tells Jack that his duty is to his family, he replies that his duty is to God.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Movies told out of chronological order.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some young men get physical on a basketball court, prompting Jack to get rough (pushing) with the young man he's trying to set straight.
  • Jack's son hits his sister, prompting Jack to make him hit his sister on the other arm. Once she and her mother are gone, however, Jack slaps his son on the head twice.
  • A man tries to hang himself in jail, but ends up nearly strangling himself until the pipe he's tied to breaks and sends him falling to the floor.
  • Cristina is belligerent while high on drugs and drives her car into another car.
  • Paul holds a gun on Jack and then pushes him along as he takes him out into the desert. There, he makes him get on his knees, throws some dirt at him, aims his gun at him and then fires several times, but we don't see if he shoots him or not.
  • Cristina slaps Paul.
  • Jack heats a knife with a lighter and then uses it to start to remove a large tattoo on his arm (we see the first cut with some resultant blood).
  • Paul knocks away Cristina's cocaine.
  • Paul shoots near Jack, but purposefully does so into the ground near him.
  • In a sequence with jumpy camera work and partial views, Jack pushes a door open and tells Paul to shoot him. He grabs Paul's hand and gun and places the latter to his own neck. Cristina then repeatedly hits Jack with a lamp, there's some struggling, Paul steps on some glass and cuts his foot, and then shoots himself in the chest (we hear, but don't see the shooting, but do see the bloody results).



  • Reviewed November 6, 2003 / Posted November 26, 2003

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

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