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"STAGE BEAUTY"
(2004) (Billy Crudup, Claire Danes) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A 17th century male performer who specializes in playing women in the theater must deal with the king suddenly outlawing his kind in favor of actresses being allowed to appear on the stage.
PLOT:
It's the 1660s and the law dictates that women are not allowed to perform on the stage. Accordingly, men play those roles and none is better or more famous than Ned Kynaston (BILLY CRUDUP) who's spent years honing his craft before appearing alongside fellow performer and theater manager Betterton (TOM WILKINSON) doing Shakespeare. Despite the ban on female performers, Ned's young dresser, Maria (CLAIRE DANES), sneaks off at night and pays Samuel Pepys (HUGH BONNEVILLE) to let her perform on an out of the way stage, unbeknownst to anyone in the audience.

Word, however, eventually gets around to Nell Gwynn (ZOň TAPPER), the young mistress to King Charles II (RUPERT EVERETT) who similarly wants to perform on the stage like Maria. She eventually convinces the king to change the longstanding sexist rule, a move that then prohibits men from playing women on the stage. As Maria's star rises, particularly with aristocratic benefactor Sir Charles Sedley (RICHARD GRIFFITHS) guiding her way, Ned's begins to wane. Coupled with his fellow bisexual lover George Villiars, the Duke of Buckingham (BEN CHAPLIN), planning on marrying a woman, Ned's life begins to unravel.

From that point on, he tries to find a way to return to the stage, all while dealing with his professional and personal relationship with Maria.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's not that likely unless they're fans of films about the theater and/or anyone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sexual content and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • BILLY CRUDUP plays a male performer who makes a living playing women on the stage in an era when they weren't allowed to be performers. He has sex or fools around with both men and women, uses some strong profanity and must deal with the king's changes in policy regarding his profession.
  • CLAIRE DANES plays his dresser who becomes the next big thing after her sneaking off to play women on the stage leads to the king changing the laws about just that. She falls for and fools around with Ned.
  • RUPERT EVERETT plays the flamboyant king who allows his mistress to convince him to change the rules regarding women appearing on the stage.
  • TOM WILKINSON plays Ned's fellow performer and theater manager who must also deal with the changes in theater performer policy handed down by the king.
  • BEN CHAPLIN plays the Duke of Buckingham and Ned's occasional bisexual lover.
  • RICHARD GRIFFITHS plays an aristocrat who becomes Maria's sponsor and seems willing to have sex with either sex. He uses strong profanity.
  • ZOň TAPPER plays the king's mistress who pushes for women's roles in the theater by using her sexual wiles to convince him to change the law.
  • 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 5 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Various instances of sexually related dialogue -- some of it explicit -- are present, including in a stage musical number. Heterosexual and homosexual encounters are present, occur just off-screen or are implied (real and simulated intercourse and female to male oral sex), while some nudity (bare breasts, bare butts) is also seen (in sexual and nonsexual contexts).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including some people who arrange and/or participate in severely beating another person. Some faked stage violence is also present. Some characters drink and some imitative behavior occurs.

    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
  • Miscellaneous people drink.
  • Sir Charles makes a comment about being behind in his drinking.
  • Ned may have a drink.
  • Ned drinks while performing on stage while those in the audience also drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see someone step into some horse excrement on the street.
  • Several people repeatedly hit and kick Ned (with some resultant blood on his face, but we only partially see the blows), finally kicking him in the crotch. We see bruises on his face 6 weeks later as well as the fact that he now walks with a limp.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A man apparently gooses a woman (pinches or feels her clothed butt) and tries to do the same to Maria, but she whacks his hand.
  • The sexist law of the land is that women can't act on the stage.
  • Unbeknownst to him, Maria uses Ned's costumes in a late night venue where she's breaking the law by appearing on the stage (as a woman playing a woman).
  • A man tells Maria that it's "illegal to have these on stage" as he gropes her clothed breast but then accepts her bribe to allow her to go on.
  • Sir Charles gets mad at Ned (in drag) when he won't do anything sexual with him (when thinking he's a woman and then as a man).
  • Ned makes fun of Maria's performance as she auditions for the part he's always played.
  • Several people repeatedly hit and kick Ned in an attack that severely injures him.
  • Sir Charles, two young women and others are behind Ned receiving that beating.
  • After a comment is made that the French are already doing something (as a reason for this group to do so), someone jokes that whenever they're about to do something dumb, the French already did it earlier.
  • Some viewers might not like King Charles II stating that in regards to the Church, acting like women leads to sodomy and then adds that they (the Church) should know (referring to their priests).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • During a play on the stage, Ned's character grabs Maria's by the face and the two struggle, followed by him smothering her with yelling and fighting. This shocks the audience that actually believes he's killed her (since previous versions of the play were not as realistic).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get the f*ck off my stage," "Bloody," "Strumpet," "Whore," "Putting the screws on me," "No one gave a damn," "Bitch," "Who the hell was that?" "Slut," "How in the hell did you get in here?" and "Bugger."
  • A man apparently gooses a woman (pinches or feels her clothed butt) and tries to do the same to Maria, but she whacks his hand.
  • We see Gwen and King Charles II dressed up in opposite sex costumes.
  • Dressed as a woman on the stage and doing a bawdy musical number, Ned coyly makes a gesture (sexual or not) with his middle finger by his mouth. In the same show, an older woman (who shows cleavage) makes a male masturbation gesture with her hand on a staff.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A bit of dramatic music plays in the film during a play scene.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • Dressed as a woman on the stage, Ned does a bawdy musical number with lines such as "I've married a man who's unable to screw," "Pleasures are small" and "No balls at all."
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 5 "f" words (2 used sexually as is the term "screw"), 7 slang terms for male genitals (including "c*ck," "thingy" and "crown"), 2 for breasts ("t*t"), 2 damns, 2 hells, 1 bugger, 2 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A man apparently gooses a woman (pinches or feels her clothed butt) and tries to do the same to Maria, but she whacks his hand.
  • Someone asks "What about sex, vis-ŗ-vis the stage" and a comment is made to show something more graphic, to show "t*t."
  • Two women show up, sporting cleavage and stating they're fans of Ned's. He then leaves with them (they wanted him to stay in costume as a woman). While in a carriage, they jokingly chat about whether he has a gentleman's "thingy" and use another euphemism for his penis, and a comment is made about him having a "big bulgy thingy" (all while still in his stage costume and makeup dressed as a woman). They then discuss how to prove that he does and one says that they'd have to touch it. He then lifts his dress and places their hands under there, much to their excitement as they realize he was telling the truth. He then has a satisfied look on his face as they disappear out of the shot down onto the floor of the carriage. Later, as the women leave him, one pays him a shilling "for services rendered." Sir Charles then comes upon the three of them, asking how much for each of them and then, "How much for a f*ck?" The women leave and Ned tries to, but Sir Charles keeps after him, even after learning that he's a man in drag (by lifting his skirt and then saying he could use a male mistress).
  • A man tells Maria that it's "illegal to have these on stage" as he gropes her clothed breast but then accepts her bribe to allow her to go on.
  • Ned tells Maria (about the above two young women), "They wanted to feel my c*ck for the sake of a wager." Maria is jealous and asks if they succeeded in feeling him, prompting him to jokingly ask, "What kind of girl do you take me for?"
  • We see some fake breasts on Ned's costume.
  • We see Ned in some sort of short-type underwear after disrobing from his costume.
  • The term "hard on" is used sexually as is "a whore on the make."
  • Ned finds George on stage in their empty theater, under the covers and apparently nude. After some small talk, they passionately kiss on the prop bed, we see the top of George's bare butt and it's implied that they have sex.
  • A metaphor is made about "if two mice were f*cking in a nutshell..."
  • George says something about (what sounded like) liking to see a golden flow as I die in you (referring to having sex with Ned).
  • We see Nell performing in a play where she's apparently nude behind just a large shield. King Charles II then runs up and runs his hand down to her butt (we see the top of it as well as her bare back).
  • Meeting Ned (not dressed as a woman), Sir Charles says he feels that he's had the honor and Ned then fills in the rest "of feeling it" (about the above sexual come-on).
  • Gwen makes a comment about something being why she doesn't do sailors and mentions that her father was in the navy and her mother was a whore.
  • Gwen shows varying amounts of cleavage in various outfits in various scenes.
  • Gwen suggestively tells King Charles II, "Oh your majesty, let me see the crown." He then guides her head down toward his crotch and we see/hear his pleasured reaction as she apparently performs oral sex on him (out of the camera shot).
  • The above two young women see Ned again (one showing cleavage) and take a carriage ride with him, suggestively asking if he ever gives outdoor performances (a double entendre). Nothing happens, however, as they have set him up for a beating.
  • A painter states that he can only paint beauty with the "t*t" exposed and thus Maria reluctantly exposes her breast for the sitting.
  • We see a man's bare butt as he lies face down in a steam room getting a massage.
  • Ned flirts with George who's in a towel but is upset that George is planning on getting married. He asks George what she's like in bed and how she kisses and then (repeating a line from above) asks if she wears a golden flow (or throw) when you die in her. George then relates to his sex with Ned by stating, "I'm here in a play, inside Desdemona."
  • King Charles II states that in regards to the Church, acting like women leads to sodomy and then adds that they (the Church) should know (referring to their priests).
  • Dressed as a woman on the stage, Ned does a bawdy musical number with lines such as "I've married a man who's unable to screw," "Pleasures are small" and "No balls at all."
  • Dressed as a woman on the stage and doing a bawdy musical number, Ned coyly makes a gesture (sexual or not) with his middle finger by his mouth. In the same show, an older woman (who shows cleavage) makes a male masturbation gesture with her hand on a staff. There's a reference to "proof" down there (pointing to Ned's crotch) and so Ned lifts his dress and we briefly see what looks like pubic hair, but Maria interrupts the show.
  • Maria cares for Ned who's in bed with just a sheet over his lap. She then tells him that she's never slept with a man before, prompting him to say he's never slept with a woman before. When she doesn't believe that, he emphasizes the word "slept" (meaning sleeping rather than sex). She then asks "What do men do..." and he responds, "With women?" and she replies, "With men." He says it depends on who's the man and who's the woman, adding that he was the woman in his relationship, prompting her to ask, "That means?" We then see a montage of them playfully acting out sexual positions, with her on top of him doggie style and then vice-versa, then him on top of her in the missionary position and then her on top of him. We see the side of her bare butt as they passionately kiss (as we hear heavy breathing) and some sensual caressing and him kissing down her neck. He, however, breaks the mood by talking about acting and nothing else sexual happens.
  • We see a close-up of a woman's cleavage representing a man's point of view of it.
  • Sir Charles makes a comment to Ned, "And all because I thought you were a whore and grabbed your c*ck."
  • Maria and Ned do some passionate kissing with heavy breathing.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • King Charles II briefly mentions his father being beheaded in the past.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Sexism then and now.
  • Theater productions.
  • Shakespeare.
  • British royalty.
  • VIOLENCE
  • During a stage rendition of Othello, the title character pretends to smother Desdemona.
  • Ned hits Sir Charles on the chest when the latter won't leave him alone with his sexual requests.
  • King Charles II mentions a person's feet being burned, their ears lopped off and their tongue cut in the past.
  • King Charles II mentions his father being beheaded in the past.
  • Several people repeatedly hit and kick Ned (with some resultant blood on his face, but we only partially see the blows), finally kicking him in the crotch. We see bruises on his face 6 weeks later as well as the fact that he now walks with a limp).
  • During a play on the stage, Ned's character grabs Maria's by the face and the two struggle, followed by him smothering her with yelling and fighting. This shocks the audience that actually believes he's killed her (since previous versions of the play were not as realistic).



  • Reviewed September 28, 2004 / Posted October 22, 2004

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