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"CADILLAC RECORDS"
(2008) (Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A white record producer recruits, records and then promotes various black singers and musicians during the racially turbulent 1950s and '60s.
PLOT:
Leonard Chess (ADRIEN BRODY) is a white man in 1940s era Chicago who opens a nightclub in a black neighborhood, eventually getting sharecropper turned amazing guitarist and singer Muddy Waters (JEFFREY WRIGHT) to play there. The latter is so good that following the club's convenient demise by fire, Leonard opens up Chess Records in the 1950s, recording and then promoting Muddy's music around the country.

Leonard's financial gamble worries his wife, Revetta (EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI), while Muddy's philandering ways don't sit well with his wife back home, Geneva (GABRIELLE UNION), but their work eventually pays off handsomely, allowing Leonard to sign other performers such as harmonica man Little Walter (COLUMBUS SHORT), intense singer Howlin' Wolf (EAMONN WALKER), as well as songwriter Willie Dixon (CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER) whose work takes the artists to new heights.

As the years wear on, Leonard signs other performers, including Chuck Berry (MOS DEF) and then Etta James (BEYONCE KNOWLES), but must contend with Muddy's jealousy and declining record sales along with his artists' various predicaments, all in an era of continued racism and segregation.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast and/or the singers and musicians portrayed by them, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For pervasive language and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ADRIEN BRODY plays a white owner of a nightclub in a black section of Chicago who decides to start a record label featuring black artists. He allows them to do their thing in the recording studio, and then goes out promoting their work. He uses strong profanity, nearly cheats on his wife with Etta, smokes nonstop and drinks.
  • JEFFREY WRIGHT plays the legendary singer and guitar man who's Leonard's first signed artist. He smokes, uses strong profanity, cheats on Geneva, drinks, and becomes disillusioned when his star at Chess Records begins to dim in favor of newer artists.
  • COLUMBUS SHORT plays the talented but volatile harmonica man who backs up Muddy but then becomes a star in his own right. He uses strong profanity, smokes, drinks (to the point of having a serious problem with that) and carries a handgun that's drawn on several occasions, including to shoot an imposter performing under his stage name.
  • CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER plays a songwriter who joins the record label and serves as the film's narrator.
  • MOS DEF plays the charismatic Chuck Berry who gets in trouble due to his only vice -- young white women/girls with whom he has sexual relations.
  • BEYONCE KNOWLES plays the bluesy singer with father abandonment issues who ends up with a bad heroin addiction. She uses strong profanity.
  • EAMONN WALKER plays another artist with a sultry and strong personality who clashes with Leonard. He drinks some.
  • GABRIELLE UNION plays Muddy's wife back home who must contend with his cheating ways.
  • EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI plays Leonard's wife who's concerned early on about him financing the budding studio with their personal money.
  • 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 lest 78 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue (some of it explicit) is present, as are views of various sexual encounters (including a man with various teen girls at the same time), with movement, sounds and some nudity (breasts). Varying amounts of cleavage are also present.

    Violence includes a person shooting and downing a person (we don't know if they're injured or dead), other gun use, some beatings (one of which leads to a man's death) and some fighting. Some of that has bloody results, and some of those scenes might be suspenseful and/or unsettling to some viewers.

    Various characters drink (some to the point of intoxication) and drug use (heroin) occurs off camera, while many characters smoke throughout the film. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including racism), while some behavior might be enticing for some kids to imitate, and tense family material is 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.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that from camera flashes.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • About Leonard's nightclub, a man states that he doesn't care if people get liquored up there, but adds that he lost two daughters to blues players.
  • Muddy has a drink.
  • We see various bottles of liquor in a deejay's office.
  • We see three women drinking and doing some sexy dancing for Leonard and Muddy.
  • Muddy drinks from a flask.
  • Muddy drinks from a flask, and offers some to Walter who declines but then eventually accepts, and then drinks a lot from the flask.
  • A miscellaneous woman has beer.
  • We see some wine or champagne on a table in front of Muddy and a woman.
  • Muddy comes home intoxicated.
  • We see flashback footage of Muddy shaking and spraying a bottle of beer onto a miscellaneous woman's cleavage in the crowd, and then putting his face into that.
  • Walter pours a drink for Geneva, while he has a flask.
  • While intoxicated, Walter drives up (without any doors on his car) and has a smart mouth back toward two white cops.
  • Howlin' Wolf has a drink in a bar where others drink.
  • While intoxicated, Walter crashes his car into the storefront of Leonard's studio, smashing through the glass, resulting in him having a bloody face.
  • Leonard has some whiskey.
  • We see wine on the table by Etta and her father, and when he leaves, she says she could use a bottle of gin, but has to keep repeating that as no one will serve her until Leonard comes along and tells someone to do so. She then drinks directly from the bottle.
  • Leonard states that Walter feeds his talent with whiskey and "smack" (heroin).
  • Walter states he needs a bottle of gin before performing in a recording session, and he guzzles down some of that.
  • We see wine or champagne by a couple in a park.
  • We see Etta passed out on her living room floor with a syringe by her, indicating she's recently shot up some heroin.
  • Leonard has a drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Walter's face is very bloody as a white cop repeatedly bashes his head down onto the hood of a car.
  • While intoxicated, Walter crashes his car into the storefront of Leonard's studio, smashing through the glass, resulting in him having a bloody face.
  • We briefly see a photo of two lynched and bloody men.
  • Two guys confront Leonard in an alley, and before he can finish pulling his gun, they repeatedly punch and kick him, and then leave him there bruised and battered.
  • Following some gambling, a guy hits Walter who's later seen with a bloody face and teeth, with some of his blood ending up on Etta's face and nightgown.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A miscellaneous man has a mocking bad attitude toward Muddy playing his acoustic guitar on the streets of Chicago.
  • Leonard gets involved in payola (paying deejays to play his label's records).
  • We hear that Leonard's club mysteriously burned down, and that he used the insurance money to open his own studio, with the implication being that he was responsible for that.
  • Muddy cheats on Geneva with various women.
  • Walter comes on to Geneva despite her being with Muddy.
  • A white man at a club won't let Chuck perform when he sees that he is black.
  • While intoxicated, Walter has a smart mouth back toward two white cops, one of which tells him, "Get your ass back over here nigger." We then see someone rush in to get Leonard and Muddy, and when they go outside, we see one of the white cops repeatedly bashing Walter's now bloody face to the hood of his car.
  • With Leonard's help, Muddy steals away one of Howlin' Wolf's guitar players, thus drawing the latter's ire.
  • A man pulls a gun in a club where Muddy and others are performing, and fires two shots. Howlin' Wolf then hits that man over the back with a chair, downing him.
  • We briefly see a photo of two lynched and bloody men, as well as archival film footage of a cop beating a man with a baton who tries to strike back.
  • We hear Willie state that Chuck had only one vice, and that was white girls (he's later arrested for transporting an underage girl across state lines).
  • Chuck is upset that the Beach Boys have stolen part of one of his songs and turned it into their latest hit.
  • After helping get her out of her heroin-induced stupor, and comforting her, Leonard starts kissing on Etta. That then turns into passionate kissing, with him getting on top of her on the floor, but Muddy and Geneva than walk in and interrupt them and nothing else happens.
  • Two guys confront Leonard in an alley, and before he can finish pulling his gun, they repeatedly punch and kick him, and then leave him there bruised and battered.
  • Muddy becomes unhappy with the way Leonard is handling business, and that causes some bad attitudes between them.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be unsettling and/or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • As Walter gets in another performer's face while playing his harmonica, the man gets mad and punches him. Walter draws his handgun and a shot rings out, hitting the light fixture above Leonard, prompting him to pull his handgun, while Walter holds his gun on Muddy.
  • While driving down the road, Walter spots an imposter who is using his recording name. Accordingly, Walter gets out and shoots at that man who falls to the ground, but we don't know if he was hit, injured, or killed.
  • While intoxicated, Walter has a smart mouth back toward two white cops, one of which tells him, "Get your ass back over here nigger." We then see someone rush in to get Leonard and Muddy, and when they go outside, we see one of the white cops repeatedly bashing Walter's now bloody face to the hood of his car.
  • A man pulls a gun in a club where Muddy and others are performing, and fires two shots. Howlin' Wolf then hits that man over the back with a chair, downing him.
  • We briefly see a photo of two lynched and bloody men, as well as archival film footage of a cop beating a man with a baton who tries to strike back.
  • Two guys confront Leonard in an alley, and before he can finish pulling his gun, they repeatedly punch and kick him, and then leave him there bruised and battered.
  • Following some gambling, a guy hits Walter who's later seen with a bloody face and teeth, with some of his blood ending up on Etta's face and nightgown. SPOILER ALERT: He then dies there on the floor from the mostly unseen, earlier beating.
  • For those sensitive about dead bodies, we see one on the floor right after the man dies, and then see him in a casket later.
  • After just getting into his car and starting to drive off, a man slumps over, with the car coming to a stop at a curb, the result of the man dying of a heart attack.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or possibly kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • In the opening credits, we see various flash images including a handgun being placed into a guitar case.
  • We see that Walter has a pistol in his waistband.
  • As Walter gets in another performer's face while playing his harmonica, the man gets mad and punches him. Walter draws his handgun and a shot rings out, hitting the light fixture above Leonard, prompting him to pull his handgun, while Walter holds his gun on Muddy.
  • We see Muddy put a handgun into a guitar case.
  • While driving down the road, Walter spots an imposter who is using his recording name. Accordingly, Walter gets out and shoots at that man who falls to the ground, but we don't know if he was hit, injured, or killed.
  • When Howlin' Wolf becomes confrontational and states that he is his band's leader (after Leonard makes a suggestion to one of his guitar players), Walter spins his handgun around in his hand so that Howlin' Wolf sees that. Leonard then does the same, and then offers the gun to Muddy when Howlin' Wolf comes onto Muddy's lover while singing to her in the recording studio (Muddy turns down the gun offer).
  • A man pulls a gun in a club where Muddy and others are performing, and fires two shots. Howlin' Wolf then hits that man over the back with a chair, downing him.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "(Fat/Skinny/That) M*therf*ker," "What the f*ck /you doing/do you know?" "You're a crazy m*therf*cker," "You f*cked up my place," "It's gonna f*ck me up," "F*ck it," "I know I'm a m*therf*cker," "F*cked up," "A whole lot of f*cking going on," "Sh*t-hole," "That's bullsh*t," "He didn't teach me sh*t," "Stupid sh*t," "My mother was a whore," "Schmuck," "Where the hell you going with that?" "A damn shame," "Sing your ass off," "What the hell are you?" "Get your ass back over here nigger," 'Crackers," "Broad," "I'm your number one bitch," "Tight ass" and "I'm a grown-ass man."
  • When Howlin' Wolf becomes confrontational and states that he is his band's leader (after Leonard makes a suggestion to one of his guitar players), Walter spins his handgun around in his hand so that Howlin' Wolf sees that. Leonard then does the same.
  • We see flashback footage of Muddy shaking and spraying a bottle of beer onto a miscellaneous woman's cleavage in the crowd, and then putting his face into that.
  • Walter has a gold front tooth.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • While driving down the road, Walter spots an imposter who is using his recording name. Accordingly, Walter gets out and suddenly shoots at that man.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song has the line "I'm a grown ass man."
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 78 "f" words (38 used with "mother," 5 used sexually), 25 "s" words, 8 damns, 7 asses, 7 hells, 1 S.O.B., 9 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "God," "Oh Jesus" and "Oh Lord."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • In the opening credits, we see various flash images, including what looks like a woman's bare back.
  • Willie talks of the history of Chess Records in the music industry in general, including that of girls throwing their underwear on the stage (not seen).
  • We see Leonard on top of a young woman, kissing her, and playfully putting his head up underneath her shirt. We then return to the scene, with him still on top of her, with her leg up along his side, when a knock at the door interrupts them. They get up, and he pulls up his pants with us seeing a very brief view of the top of his bare butt, while she buttons up her dress.
  • We briefly see a shirtless guy working out in the field.
  • We see Muddy on top of Geneva as they fool around on a bed. There is movement and sounds, but no nudity.
  • We see three women drinking and doing some sexy dancing (including at least one in her slip) for Leonard and Muddy. Leonard leaves due to being married, and it's implied that Muddy has some sort of sexual relations with one or more of those women.
  • We see Muddy in a bathtub (nothing explicit seen), and he playfully pulls a fully clothed Geneva in there with him.
  • After Muddy gives a woman jewelry or something similar, we see that woman move down toward his clothed crotch in a restaurant, but don't see anything else occur.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • Muddy returns home to find Geneva holding a baby that she states is his from another woman who said she could no longer care for the child. We then see flashback footage of Muddy shaking and spraying a bottle of beer onto a miscellaneous woman's cleavage in the crowd, and then putting his face into that. We then see a quick view of him on top of that woman and possibly a brief/partial view of her bare breast.
  • Walter comes on to Geneva, and she seems a little tempted, but then says that she loves Muddy and nothing else happens.
  • Etta somewhat suggestively reclines on the bed (in a tight dress) for an audition with Leonard. This somewhat seems sexual in nature, and she tells Leonard not to look at her as if she's not wearing any drawers (underwear), but she's only there to audition for her singing and nothing sexual occurs (and that's the only reason Leonard has her there, for her singing).
  • Etta shows varying amounts of cleavage in various outfits, some of which are fairly low cut and show a lot.
  • The camera focuses on Etta's butt in a tight, formfitting dress as she bends over a pool table, representing Leonard's point of view. After they've talked a bit, Leonard pats the top of her clothed butt when leaving.
  • Etta states that her mother was a "whore," and that all her white biological father saw were the color stains of all the other men her mother "f*cked."
  • We see three young women in the back seat with Chuck, with all of them seemingly being topless and perhaps fully nude (we see one's bare breasts). Later, Chuck is arrested for transporting an underage girl across state lines.
  • Walter playfully tells Etta that he will show her how to "blow" (meaning his harmonica), but Muddy tells her to be careful as Walter isn't talking about that instrument.
  • As Etta performs her signature song, we briefly see a montage of people listening to it, including a couple in a park making out on the ground (side by side and clothed), while another appears to be having sex, with the woman on top (we see her bare back).
  • We see a side view of Leonard on top of his wife having sex, with slow movement and a view of her leg up alongside him, but there is no explicit nudity and a phone call interrupts them.
  • After helping get her out of her heroin-induced stupor, and comforting her, Leonard starts kissing on Etta. That then turns into passionate kissing, with him getting on top of her on the floor, but Muddy and Geneva than walk in and interrupt them and nothing else happens.
  • The word "f*cking" is used several times as a metaphor by Leonard in response to how Muddy thinks Leonard is handling them professionally ("I'm f*cking her," "I'm f*cking Chuck," "I'm f*cking you"), prompting Muddy to sarcastically reply that there is a whole lot of "f*cking" going on.
  • There's on-screen text at the end of the film commenting on the various artists, with one bit briefly commenting on Chuck Berry's hit single, "My Ding-a-ling."
  • SMOKING
  • Leonard, Muddy and Walter each smoke at least 10 times, while a number of minor and miscellaneous characters also smoke in various scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • About Leonard's nightclub, a man states that he doesn't care if people get liquored up there, but adds that he lost two daughters to blues players.
  • Leonard's wife is concerned that he's gambling with their future, by using their money to pay for his studio rather than their mortgage which is now late.
  • Leonard informs Walter that the latter's mother died, and he initially seems upset, but then states he can't go for fear of losing his recording gig, and then mentions that his mother gave him away when he was born.
  • Muddy returns home to find Geneva holding a baby that she states is his from another woman who said she could no longer care for the child. Geneva is upset by this as it proves he's been cheating on her.
  • Walter comes on to Geneva, and she seems a little tempted, but then says that she loves Muddy and nothing else happens. However, Muddy walks in while they are still seated next to each other on the bed, and realizes that something is going on. When Walter gets up to leave, Muddy confronts him and then pins him down onto the bed.
  • Etta states that her father "didn't teach me sh*t," adds that she never met him, and then states that he was Minnesota Fats. Leonard later arranges a meeting between her and her father, but it doesn't go well with him stating he can't help her, and walks out, leaving her distressed.
  • Etta states that her mother was a "whore," and that all her white biological father saw were the color stains of all the other men her mother "f*cked."
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The notion and history of "race records" (meaning albums recorded by black artists).
  • Leonard gets involved in payola (paying deejays to play his label's records).
  • The historical accuracy and/or any artistic license taken with the true story.
  • How the life-story arcs of singers and musicians is often quite similar.
  • At one of Chuck's concerts, the separated white and black patrons break the rules and intermingle.
  • The way that Leonard reinvents music or allows it to change on its own away from the standard norms.
  • VIOLENCE
  • As Walter gets in another performer's face while playing his harmonica, the man gets mad and punches him. Walter draws his handgun and a shot rings out, hitting the light fixture above Leonard, prompting him to pull his handgun, while Walter holds his gun on Muddy.
  • While driving down the road, Walter spots an imposter who is using his recording name. Accordingly, Walter gets out and shoots at that man who falls to the ground, but we don't know if he was hit, injured, or killed.
  • Walter comes on to Geneva, and she seems a little tempted, but then says that she loves Muddy and nothing else happens. However, Muddy walks in while they are still seated next to each other on the bed, and realizes that something is going on. When Walter gets up to leave, Muddy confronts him and then pins him down onto the bed.
  • While intoxicated, Walter has a smart mouth back toward two white cops, one of which tells him, "Get your ass back over here nigger." We then see someone rush in to get Leonard and Muddy, and when they go outside, we see one of the white cops repeatedly bashing Walter's now bloody face to the hood of his car. After Leonard gets the cops to leave, Muddy grabs Walter and pushes him back to the car to give him some advice.
  • A man pulls a gun in a club where Muddy and others are performing, and fires two shots. Howlin' Wolf then hits that man over the back with a chair, downing him.
  • While intoxicated, Walter crashes his car into the storefront of Leonard's studio, smashing through the glass, resulting in him having a bloody face.
  • We briefly see a photo of two lynched and bloody men, as well as archival film footage of a cop beating a man with a baton who tries to strike back.
  • Two guys confront Leonard in an alley, and before he can finish pulling his gun, they repeatedly punch and kick him, and then leave him there bruised and battered.
  • Following some gambling, a guy hits Walter who's later seen with a bloody face and teeth, with some of his blood ending up on Etta's face and nightgown. SPOILER ALERT: He then dies there on the floor from the mostly unseen, earlier beating.
  • While angry, Leonard thrashes and throws stuff about in an office.



  • Reviewed December 2, 2008 / Posted December 5, 2008

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