[Screen It]

 

"MILK"
(2008) (Sean Penn, Josh Brolin) (R)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: An openly gay man repeatedly runs for office in 1970s era San Francisco in his quest to promote and protect gay rights issues.
PLOT:
It's the 1970s and Harvey Milk (SEAN PENN) is an unassuming gay man living in NYC who meets the younger Scott Smith (JAMES FRANCO). The two become a couple and end up moving to San Francisco's Castro neighborhood where they open a camera shop, only to discover that others aren't happy with their presence or the influx of gays into the city. As a result, and to both promote and protect gay rights, Harvey decides to run for local office.

Despite repeated defeats, he eventually succeeds, with the help from a committed staff including Cleve Jones (EMILE HIRSCH) and their political team's lone female worker, Anne Kronenberg (ALISON PILL), their lesbian campaign manager. Yet, the trials and tribulations of running for office eventually ends Harvey and Scott's relationship, with the newly elected official now living with the highly insecure Jack Lira (DIEGO LUNA).

While contending with issues at home, Harvey strives to be successful as a city supervisor, working alongside the likes of Dan White (JOSH BROLIN) who doesn't like his sexual orientation, but is generally civil toward him, at least at first. With the support of Mayor George Moscone (VICTOR GARBER), Harvey continues his work toward gay rights, a goal threatened by the likes of social activist Anita Bryant as well as State Senator John Briggs (DENIS O'HARE) who supports Proposition Six, a legal quest to repeal such rights.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast and/or are interested in the subject matter, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, some sexual content and brief violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SEAN PENN plays a middle-aged gay man who moves with Scott to San Francisco, opens a camera shop, and finds himself increasingly involved in politics as a response to indignities he and other gays face. Shrewd but likeable, he knows how to work the system and succeeds due to his perseverance. He has relationships with Scott and Jack, and must contend with the repercussions of his sexual orientation and political moves to make that legally and socially acceptable. He drinks some.
  • JOSH BROLIN plays another city supervisor who doesn't approve of Harvey's sexual orientation, but finds it in his best interest to work with him on various local political issues. However, he eventually becomes disenchanted with both that process and Harvey's rise in power, becoming unhinged at the end. He also drinks to the point of intoxication.
  • JAMES FRANCO plays Harvey's boyfriend when the latter first enters the political ring, but grows tired of the demands that puts on Harvey and their relationship. He briefly smokes pot.
  • EMILE HIRSCH plays a young gay man who ends up joining Harvey's cause and campaigns. He smokes, uses strong profanity, and has sex with another man (at minimum performing oral sex on him).
  • DIEGO LUNA plays Harvey's boyfriend later in the film, an insecure man who doesn't like Harvey spending time away from him, eventually taking that response to the extreme.
  • ALISON PILL plays a lesbian who joins Harvey's political run as his campaign manager. She uses some strong profanity.
  • VICTOR GARBER plays the mayor of San Francisco who supports Harvey and smokes a few times.
  • DENIS O'HARE plays a state senator who's against gay rights and in favor of Proposition 6.
  • 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 16 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present, as are several sexual (gay) encounters and some nonsexual nudity (male bare butts).

    Violence consists of two assassinations (one off camera), some beatings (one leading to a death), and the sight of a hung body following an unseen suicide. Some of that has bloody results, and some of those scenes might be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and some behavior might be enticing for some kids to imitate, while references are made to tense family material. Characters drink and smoke, one smokes a joint, and some drug references are made, while various thematic elements are 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 prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of handheld camera footage in the film, some of it fairly bouncy.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see bottles in a bar in archival footage.
  • Harvey has a drink.
  • On tape, Harvey comments on San Francisco becoming drug-filled.
  • We see wine and champagne bottles in a liquor store.
  • Scott smokes a joint, saying he bought an ounce of pot with his last unemployment check.
  • One guy rolls his own joint or a cigarette.
  • We see beer being poured out as Harvey's alliance joins the union in a beer boycott.
  • Harvey occasionally mentions things about "pot."
  • A comment is made that the Castro neighborhood is about sex, drugs and more sex.
  • About redefining his image to run again, Harvey states there will be no more bathhouse visits or pot smoking.
  • Miscellaneous people drink in a bar.
  • About landing a newspaper endorsement for Harvey, Anne proudly asks if anyone's going to buy her a drink, and others agree to do just that.
  • People celebrate with champagne over Harvey's victory.
  • Dan tells Harvey that when he previously commented on deviants, he was referring to junkies and not gays, but he appears to be lying about that.
  • Jack has wine on the table for Harvey and then comments about a drink for him.
  • Miscellaneous people have beer.
  • Jack has beer.
  • People drink at Harvey's birthday party where Dan appears intoxicated and drinks directly from a bottle of booze.
  • We see a beer in front of Jack.
  • People celebrate a victory with beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see cops struggling with and beating some gay men, and Scott has a little bit of blood on his head following that. We also briefly see a body bag being closed over a dead and bloody body.
  • Harvey receives a death threat drawing, complete with a gun and cartoon blood, etc.
  • Lying or not, Scott apologizes to a man for "pissing" in the pool while swimming in it.
  • Cleve talks of being in Spain for a protest where the blood was literally running in the streets (not seen).
  • To make himself more popular among the voters, Harvey pushes through "pooper scooper" legislation, and we see Harvey cleaning up some dog excrement that he accidentally steps in.
  • We see fake blood in an opera.
  • Harvey's hand is bloody after he's shoot through that.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A store owner in the neighborhood doesn't approve of gays, wiping his hand after Harvey shakes it, and then warns him about opening his camera shop across the street, saying there's man's law and then there's God's law.
  • Harvey states via narration that the cops hated and beat them (gays).
  • Terms such as "pansies," "queer" and "faggot" and others are used, but in a light fashion by Harvey or other gay men about themselves or other gay men. The same holds true for "dyke" and "Mick." Even so, some people might not like such usage or the likes of being as "queer" as a three dollar bill.
  • Harvey receives a death threat drawing, complete with a gun and cartoon blood, etc.
  • Anita Bryant and others work to repeal gay rights.
  • Jack says his father used to beat him (for being gay).
  • Dan tells Harvey that when he previously commented on deviants, he was referring to junkies and not gays, but he appears to be lying about that.
  • A politician implies that the local school board is trying to indoctrinate kids into the gay lifestyle.
  • Harvey receives a threatening postcard.
  • A politician states that teachers are trying to recruit kids to be gay.
  • A man assassinates two politicians.
  • 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.
  • Harvey gets increasingly nervous when a man gets out of a car and seems to be following him at night, but that man just passes by when Harvey gets to his shop and goes inside.
  • Harvey quells a potential riot by getting upset gay men to march with him in protest.
  • Spoiler Alert: Harvey returns home to find Jack dead, hanging from the ceiling following a suicide.
  • Spoiler Alert: Dan sneaks into the government building via a basement window, makes his way upstairs, and asks to meet the Mayor. Outside that office, we hear the muffled/faint sound of several gunshots. Dan then meets Harvey in the hallway and asks to talk to him in an office. They go in, Dan pulls his gun and shoots Harvey through his hand (a little blood). We then see Dan walk up and shoot Harvey in the head from behind, killing him (no blood).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Harvey receives a death threat drawing, complete with a gun and cartoon blood, etc.
  • A character carries a prop rifle in an opera.
  • A handgun is used to assassinate two people.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck that," "F*cking bourgeois," "A f*cking riot," "F*ck yeah," "Give me a f*cking break," "F*ck you," "Right f*cking now," "What the f*ck," "Orange f*cking County," "Roll over to make it easier for them to f*ck us in the ass" (said as a metaphor and not literal), "That's f*cking easy," "Scare the sh*t out of..." "This is sh*t and masturbation," "To give a sh*t about," "Dog-sh*t," "You should be a pr*ck," "C*ck-sucking queer," "Can't wait to lick you...in the polls," "Will you be sucking them off?" "Schmuck," "Pansies," "Queer," "Old queens," "Balls" (testicles), "Pissed off," "Faggot," "Has bigger balls than the rest of us," "Dykes," "He's just gonna piss himself," "A stallion with big balls," "What the hell was that?" "Mick," "All hell would break loose," "Fight the hell back," "G*ddamn lefty liberal," "Fat ass" and "Don't you give a damn?"
  • Harvey playfully pushes a pie into Scott's face.
  • A t-shirt reads "Anita sucks."
  • A pie is playfully pushed twice into Harvey's face at his birthday party.
  • Spoiler Alert: Harvey returns home to find Jack dead, hanging from the ceiling following a suicide.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 16 "f" words (1 used sexually, in a metaphor), 10 "s" words, 5 slang terms using male genitals ("c*ck" and "pr*ck"), 4 hells, 2 asses, 1 crap, 1 damn, 4 uses of "G-damn," 3 uses of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "Jesus" "Jesus Christ," "My God," "Oh dear God" and "Swear to God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Harvey and Scott briefly kiss and we then see them in bed, presumably having sex (the view is a close-up of their faces, face-to-face, and then one on top of the other). We then see them in bed after that, sitting upright, side-by-side, shirtless.
  • Harvey and Scott do some passionate kissing outside in front of their camera shop.
  • We see various shirtless men.
  • We see Harvey shirtless.
  • Scott holds up a photo of a shirtless man (the bottom of the shot stops at the top of the man's pubic hair).
  • We see a photo of a nude man lying face down on a sofa (we see his bare butt).
  • We see an overhead view of Scott swimming nude in a pool (we see his bare butt).
  • A comment is made that the Castro neighborhood is about sex, drugs and more sex.
  • About redefining his image to run again, Harvey states there will be no more bathhouse visits or pot smoking.
  • Harvey playfully tells his election opponent that he "can't wait to lick you...in the polls."
  • We hear that Anne is a lesbian who will be Harvey's new campaign manager, and there's a comment that she has "bigger balls" than any of the men.
  • From a slight distance and through a partially open door, we see partial glimpses of Harvey and Jack playfully wrestling, seemingly nude (we see one bare butt that's slapped), with one on top of the other (the scene is dimly lit). Later, and presumably after sex, we see the two of them shirtless, somewhat cuddling and kissing.
  • Cleve kisses a man and then disappears down out of the shot along that man's body, presumably to perform oral sex on him (not seen). When Cleve then starts to stand back up, the guy pushes him back down for more.
  • Harvey jokes that he and Dan are in bed together, so to speak (referring to political matters).
  • Sex between Harvey and Jack is implied after a belt is removed and there's some passionate kissing.
  • When someone mentions rooting out gays, another sarcastically asks how that will be done: "Will you be sucking them off?"
  • The comment "roll over to make it easier for them to f*ck us in the ass" is used as a metaphor about a law.
  • About something non-sexual, a person comments that it's "sh*t and masturbation."
  • Dan asks, "What, can two men reproduce?" and Harvey jokingly replies, "No, but we keep trying."
  • A sign at a protest reads "I teach English, not sex."
  • We see shirtless men at a gay rights parade, including some with big, faked clothed breasts.
  • A singer in an opera shows a lot of cleavage.
  • We see Dan in just his underwear.
  • We see Scott shirtless.
  • SMOKING
  • Cleve and Mayor Moscone each smoke several times, while many minor and miscellaneous characters smoke in various scenes.
  • One guy rolls his own joint or a cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Harvey receives a phone call from a handicapped gay teen in another state who says he's thought of committing suicide after his parents have stated they're going to take him away to get him "fixed."
  • Jack says his father used to beat him (for being gay).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Homosexuality and gay rights.
  • The film's historical accuracy and/or artistic license taken with the real story.
  • We see archival footage of gay men being arrested during a raid.
  • Harvey states via narration that the cops hated and beat them (gays).
  • Harvey's statement that politics is theater designed to get attention.
  • Harvey's statement that the election is not just about winning (meaning it's about raising public awareness of his cause).
  • Anita Bryant and her quest to repeal gay rights.
  • The "Twinkie defense" that arose from this story (that junk food caused a man to commit murder).
  • Harvey receives a phone call from a handicapped gay teen in another state who says he's thought of committing suicide after his parents have stated they're going to take him away to get him "fixed."
  • Harvey commenting about the notion of hope.
  • Jack says his father used to beat him (for being gay).
  • Dan doesn't approve of Harvey's sexual orientation, but works with him.
  • A politician implies that the local school board is trying to indoctrinate kids into the gay lifestyle.
  • Spoiler Alert: Harvey returns home to find Jack dead, hanging from the ceiling following a suicide.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see cops struggling with and beating some gay men, and Scott has a little bit of blood on his head following that. We also briefly see a body bag being closed over a dead and bloody body.
  • Spoiler Alert: Harvey returns home to find Jack dead, hanging from the ceiling following a suicide.
  • Spoiler Alert: Dan sneaks into the government building via a basement window, makes his way upstairs, and asks to meet the Mayor. Outside that office, we hear the muffled/faint sound of several gunshots. Dan then meets Harvey in the hallway and asks to talk to him in an office. They go in, Dan pulls his gun and shoots Harvey through his hand (a little blood). We then see Dan walk up and shoot Harvey in the head from behind, killing him (no blood).



  • Reviewed November 6, 2008 / Posted December 12, 2008

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