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"STATE OF PLAY"
(2009) (Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Moderate Extreme Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Mild Heavy Minor Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor Heavy Moderate Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Old and new-school newspaper reporters race against time to uncover the truth behind a number of murders, including that of the lover of a Congressman and whether the military contractor he's holding hearings on is involved.
PLOT:
Cal McAffrey (RUSSELL CROWE) is an old-school reporter for the Washington Globe who isn't crazy with the idea of Internet bloggers such as coworker Della Frye (RACHEL McADAMS), or that the paper's feisty editor, Cameron Lynne (HELEN MIRREN), is being forced by the publication's new corporate owners to focus more on the bottom line than on in-depth, investigative reporting. While covering some local murders and probing Det. Donald Bell (HARRY LENNIX), Cal becomes enticed by the story of Sonia Baker's (MARIA THAYER) death.

Initially ruled a suicide, Cal knows something is amiss when a connection develops between her and the other victims. The story gets even more complicated when he learns that she was an aide to Congressman Stephen Collins (BEN AFFLECK), who just so happens to be Cal's former college roommate. Cal was and still is friendly with Stephen's wife, Anne (ROBIN WRIGHT PENN), but the men have since had a falling out. When it's revealed that Stephen and his aide were having an affair, the plot only thickens even more.

With Majority Whip Rep. George Fergus (JEFF DANIELS) wanting to take Collins off a congressional hearing that's investigating a powerful military contractor, Point Corp, Cal thinks there's more to the story than what's appearing on the surface. Not excited about working with Della due to their different reporting styles and facing a deadline imposed by Cameron, Cal does what he can to get info out the likes of PR man Dominic Foy (JASON BATEMAN), all while hoping to avoid hitman Robert Bingham (MICHAEL BERRESSE) who may or may not be working for Point Corp in an effort to quell the investigation.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Younger kids likely won't unless they're fans of someone in the cast, but teens into dramatic thrillers might be interested.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RUSSELL CROWE plays an old school newspaper reporter who's good at what he does, but doesn't always allow journalistic integrity to get in his way of discovering the truth. Despite his personal connections to Collins and not being assigned to cover his story, he starts investigating that and whether it's connected to some recent murders. He uses profanity, drinks some, and had sex sometime in the past with Anne while she was involved with or married to Stephen.
  • RACHEL McADAMS plays his youthful counterpart at the paper who writes the Capital Hill blog and starts working on the affair and murder story regarding Collins and Sonia. She isn't crazy about working with Cal and thinks they and the paper should share their discoveries with the police. She also drinks some.
  • BEN AFFLECK plays a congressman who finds himself mired in controversy and a strained marriage when it's revealed he was having an affair with a staffer who's now ended up dead. Despite that, he continues his congressional quest to grill a military contractor about their actions. He also uses profanity, and briefly beats up Dominic.
  • HELEN MIRREN plays the paper's tart-tongued editor who's being pressured by new corporate owners to focus on the bottom line. Accordingly, Cal's insistence on having more time to work on the story and tell it right tests her patience. She uses profanity, some of it strong.
  • ROBIN WRIGHT PENN plays Collins' wife who's obviously displeased with the revelation of his affair with Sonia, although she apparently cheated on him in the past with Cal. She uses some profanity.
  • JASON BATEMAN plays a somewhat flamboyant PR guy who reluctantly tells Cal what he knows about the story at hand. It's suggested he's bisexual, and he briefly drinks and smokes, and may be one drugs.
  • MICHAEL BERRESSE plays the killer who efficiently dispatches various people and tries to do the same to Cal.
  • HARRY LENNIX plays the local police detective who works with Cal but isn't always pleased with the way he goes about his work. He uses some profanity.
  • 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 dramatic thriller that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 2 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present, some scantly clad women are briefly seen, and a male character briefly suggests he's bisexual.

    Violence consists of various people being murdered, while a man briefly beats up another man. Some of that has bloody results, and those scenes as well as various moments of potential peril might be suspenseful and/or unsetting to some viewers. Various bad attitudes are present, as is some behavior that might be enticing for kids to imitate. Tense family material (a strained marriage due to an affair) is also present.

    Drinking occurs in various scenes, there are references to drug use, and one man is noted as being under the influence, while he also briefly smokes. 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.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there is some of that from flashing police lights.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there is all sorts of jumpy and bouncy camera movement throughout the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Cal sings along with a song in his car that has lyrics about not being sober yet and passing around the bottle.
  • Cal ask Don if a murder was drug-related, and the cop confirms that.
  • Cal has a drink.
  • Anne tells Cal to buy her a drink after a press conference with her husband is over, and Cal says he will.
  • Cal ask Della if Sonia had any sort of drug past, but she doesn't answer him.
  • A street thief tells Cal that her accomplice needed a (drug) fix really bad.
  • Cal has a drink in a bar where miscellaneous people also drink.
  • Miscellaneous people drink in a bar, where an intoxicated man tries to sing karaoke.
  • About Cal and another woman in the past, Anne states that the two of them were stoned the entire time.
  • Cal gives Anne what he calls some Irish wine that is really just whiskey.
  • We hear that a street thief who Cal had contact with for part of his story was a junkie (and is now dead, but not from drugs).
  • Dominic asks Della how her beer getting skills are, and tells her to get him a frosty. She then goes off to another room to do that and ask if she can have one too. While in the other room, she comments on Dominic being stoned (and he may be handling some sort of pills), and later states that he's sleeping it off. Dominic also has that beer.
  • People have wine or champagne at a reception.
  • Cal holds a bottle of liquor and asks Della if it is a good night for it. She says yes, that it is, and the two then have some of that from small cups, followed by Cal pouring a second shot for both.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a murder scene the following day after it occurred, and there's possibly some blood on the street by a victim.
  • Cal makes a sarcastic comment toward Della and her news story coverage and that he will get her a few facts for the next time she decides to "upchuck" online.
  • We briefly see a cadaver's lower legs and feet on a morgue table, as well as what looks like a liver on a scale.
  • A comment is made that a publication is an "ass wipe" of a paper.
  • Bullets shot through an outside window suddenly strike a patient in a hospital bed, killing him, while also hitting a cop in the arm, as well as various objects in the hospital room. The cop's arm is bloody, and blood from the victim drips down onto the floor. Later, Cal wipes unseen blood from someone else off of Della's face.
  • Cal's hand is bloody after he injures it, and we later see some scrapes on the side of his head.
  • After viewing a videotape where Dominic states that Sonia was pregnant, Stephen goes into that other room and pummels Dominic, including kicking him when Cal pulls them away (leaving Dominic with a little bit of a bloody mouth).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • All of those responsible for the murders and other corruption obviously have bad attitudes.
  • Some male newspaper staffers gossip about Congressman Collins and his young and pretty staffer who has just died. One of them bets $50 that he was having sex with her (he uses a slang term for sex that we didn't quite understand). Their male editor then states that he hopes the girl wasn't five foot two and 300 pounds, prompting someone else to joke that the editor wants to have sex with one of the other guys there who is fat.
  • Stephen confesses about having an affair with one of his staffers.
  • Rather then recuse himself from any involvement in the story involving Congressman Collins and his affair, Cal helps out his former college roommate and digs deep for the truth.
  • Cal breaks various journalistic integrity rules in the way he investigates and finds information for his stories.
  • A girl who lives on the streets informs Cal that she and a guy who was recently murdered were thieves who would steal bags from businessmen, and then sell them back to them.
  • Anne tells Cal that they say that sex is the best way to ruin a friendship. She then tells him to please tell her it didn't ruin theirs (meaning they had sex sometime in the past and that this occurred while she was involved with or married to Stephen).
  • Della is idealistic, stating the newspaper should take information they have received or discovered to the police, but Cal and Cameron don't believe in that philosophy.
  • A Point Corp official has a bad attitude toward Congressman Collins who presses that man and his company about getting rich by killing others.
  • Various newspaper employees (including Cal and Della) tell various white lies to get information they need for their stories.
  • We see Sonia's former roommate who shows cleavage, and later hear that she said she was involved in a three-way sexual relationship with Congressman Collins and Sonia (and that he paid off some of that roommate's expenses in exchange for that).
  • Cal authorizes an illegal surveillance recording of Dominic talking about what he knows, all as evidence if he later recants that story. He then essentially blackmails Dominic to get info out of him, stating he can run the story with or without his name in it.
  • We learn that Point Corp had a mole in Congressman Collins' office, and later learn that a powerful congressman arranged that.
  • Stephen angrily tells Cal that he was supposed to be his friend when he was actually "screwing my wife."
  • SPOILER ALERT: We learn that a Congressman assigned the killer to watch Sonia when he became suspicious of her and her actions.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling and/or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • A man suddenly darts out onto a crowded sidewalk and into the street where he barely avoids being hit by a car, but is then struck and knocked to the street by a motorcycle. He then gets up and runs into a store, where he knocks over all sorts of stuff, before exiting the back of that building where he then runs down into an alley and hides. When he thinks he's safe, he starts to come out, but the killer than shoots him twice, killing him. When a person rides by on a bicycle, and sees what happens and thus speeds off, the killer shoots the bicyclist in the back, downing him (we later learn he survived this, but is in a coma).
  • We see that the killer is now in a hospital where one of his former shooting victims is in a coma, and Della encounters him, but doesn't know who he is (and vice-versa).
  • Bullets shot through an outside window suddenly strike a patient in a hospital bed, killing him, while also hitting a cop in the arm, as well as various objects in the hospital room.
  • While looking for another person, Cal spots the killer (who he previously saw in surveillance photos) coming back to the same apartment room where Cal is standing at the open door. The man senses that Cal is nervous and tells him to relax while going into the room, with Cal then running off. He ends up in the parking garage where a potentially deadly game of cat and mouse takes place, with Cal hiding behind various cars and trying to prevent the killer (who's now drawn his gun) from spotting and killing him. That's briefly interrupted when a group of people enter the garage and go to their car, with Cal running and jumping onto the side of that as they start to drive off. They panic and drive faster, with the killer opening fire on the car, blowing out the back window. Cal then jumps off when it appears he's going to be sideswiped by a pillar, with that fleeing car than crashing into a police car that has just arrived (the killer runs off and gets away, while we see that Cal has injured his hand that is bloody).
  • SPOILER ALERT: Cal walks out to his car at night only to encounter the armed killer there. Just then, many police cars drive up and various cops aim their guns at the killer. Even so, he tries to shoot Cal who ducks out of the way as the police open fire on the killer, shooting him dead (no blood).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Sniper Rifles: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • We see video footage of various soldiers carrying machine guns or automatic weapons.
  • A cop wears a sidearm.
  • A street thief tells Cal that one of the bags her accomplice stole had a gun and weird-looking bullets in it (not seen).
  • We see the killer prepping his sniper rifle.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck you very much," "F*ck 'em," "Leave that sh*t alone," "Bullsh*t," "She is full of sh*t," "Sh*t like that," "I do not give a sh*t," "Losing his sh*t," "Sh*t-storm," "Was he knobbing her or not?" "Don't d*ck around," "You were supposed to be my friend when you were screwing my wife," "Or is it that you shagged his wife?" "What a scum-ball," "Don't be an ass," "I know, it's crap," "Give 'em hell," "Bitch" (man), "Who the hell gave you my number?" "Geezer," "Ass-wipe excuse of a paper," "Give me a break," "Whatever the hell they want," "Shut up," "Bloody," "Wanker," "We're getting our balls busted," "Freak," "A hell of an impressive car," "What do you have in your gay-rage?" (garage), "Who the hell are you?" "Piss off," "He's a douche," "Where the hell are they?" "Bugger off," "Sweet ass Caddy," "Scaring the hell out of me," "Pissed off," "We can nail these mothers to the wall," "What the hell are you doing?" and "I've been an asshole."
  • We see miscellaneous graffiti.
  • A girl who lives on the streets informs Cal that she and a guy who was recently murdered were thieves who would steal bags from businessmen, and then sell them back to them.
  • To destroy evidence, the killer grinds up his cell phone in a kitchen sink's garbage disposal.
  • In a photo, we see a person with a tattoo.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A man suddenly darts out into traffic.
  • The killer suddenly shoots a man.
  • Bullets shot through an outside window suddenly strike a patient in a hospital bed.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and heavily dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • Cal sings along with a song in his car that has lyrics about not being sober yet and passing around the bottle.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 2 "f" words, 15 "s" words, 4 slang terms for sex ("knobbing," "screwing," "shagging" and another one), 1 using male genitals ("d*ck"), 11 hells, 5 asses (2 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 1 bugger, 1 crap, 1 wanker, 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "Christ," "For Christ's sakes," "God," "Jesus Christ," "My God" and "Oh for Christ's sakes."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Some male newspaper staffers gossip about Congressman Collins and his young and pretty staffer who has just died. One of them bets $50 that he was having sex with her (he uses a slang term for sex that we didn't quite understand). Their male editor then states that he hopes the girl wasn't five foot two and 300 pounds, prompting someone else to joke that the editor wants to have sex with one of the other guys there who is fat.
  • Cameron asks about Congressman Collins and Sonia, "Was he knobbing her or not?"
  • We see a small video clip of Sonia on a cell phone or similar equipment, where she may be topless (we see her bare shoulders, and the top of her bare breasts -- no nipples), but we don't see anything below the upper torso and head.
  • A newspaper shows an archival photo of various shirtless male soldiers.
  • Anne tells Cal that they say that sex is the best way to ruin a friendship. She then tells him to please tell her it didn't ruin theirs (meaning they had sex sometime in the past).
  • About Sonia, Cameron tells Della to find out who she knew, "who she blew," and the color of her knickers.
  • We see an old photo of Sonia in her bra and panties (but nothing explicit) and hear her former roommate talking about her always dressing that way.
  • We see Sonia's former roommate who shows cleavage, and later hear that she said she was involved in a three-way sexual relationship with Congressman Collins and Sonia (and that he paid off some of that roommate's expenses in exchange for that).
  • Sonia's former roommate talks to the press (while showing cleavage) and suggestively states that her three-way sexual encounter with Congressman Collins and Sonia was what he called being in committee.
  • We see a photograph of Dominic in some sort of leather gear.
  • When Cal approaches Dominic and tries to make small talk about his car, Dominic thinks he's coming on to him and suggestively asks Cal what he has in his "gay-rage" (garage).
  • When Della asks if Point Corp made Sonia sleep with Congressman Collins, Dominic states that she got on her back all by herself, and "screwed" every thing up. When Cal leaves, Dominic asks Della if she is sleeping with him (Cal). Dominic then states that he has a guy, as well as a girl (suggesting he is bisexual). He also states that Sonia was pregnant by Stephen.
  • Stephen angrily tells Cal that he was supposed to be his friend when he was actually "screwing my wife."
  • About Anne, Cameron asks Cal, "Or is it that you shagged his wife?"
  • We briefly see the killer in his underwear and a T-shirt.
  • SMOKING
  • Dominic briefly smokes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Stephen's affair obviously puts a strain on his marriage to Anne.
  • There is more marital tension between Stephen and Anne.
  • Anne tells Cal that she is thinking about walking away from her marriage to her husband.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The apparent demise of print newspapers.
  • Congressman Collins stating that there will be more coverage on his affair than any future legislative accomplishment he might have.
  • Rather then recuse himself from any involvement in the story involving Congressman Collins and his affair, Cal helps out his former college roommate and digs deep for the truth.
  • Anne tells Cal that they say that sex is the best way to ruin a friendship. She then tells him to please tell her it didn't ruin theirs (meaning they had sex sometime in the past).
  • Della is idealistic, stating the newspaper should take information they have received or discovered to the police, but Cal and Cameron don't believe in that philosophy.
  • The comment about the U.S. government privatizing Homeland Security to the point that it becomes a $40 billion a year industry.
  • Cameron being under pressure to sell newspapers rather than provide good, in-depth reporting (due to having a new corporate owner mainly interested in the bottom line).
  • The comment that most people recognize the difference between real news and "bullsh*t."
  • VIOLENCE
  • A man suddenly darts out onto a crowded sidewalk and into the street where he barely avoids being hit by a car, but is then struck and knocked to the street by a motorcycle. He then gets up and runs into a store, where he knocks over all sorts of stuff, before exiting the back of that building where he then runs down into an alley and hides. When he thinks he's safe, he starts to come out, but the killer than shoots him twice, killing him. When a person rides by on a bicycle, and sees what happens and thus speeds off, the killer shoots the bicyclist in the back, downing him (we later learn he survived this, but is in a coma).
  • We see Sonia walking through a subway station, and then out to the edge of the platform as a train arrives. The scene ends there, but we then hear that she was killed when she was struck by that train (not seen). That is then reported as a suicide, but is later confirmed as a murder.
  • Bullets shot through an outside window suddenly strike a patient in a hospital bed, killing him, while also hitting a cop in the arm, as well as various objects in the hospital room. The cop's arm is bloody, and blood from the victim drips down onto the floor. Later, Cal wipes unseen blood from someone else off of Della's face.
  • While looking for another person, Cal spots the killer (who he previously saw in surveillance photos) coming back to the same apartment room where Cal is standing at the open door. The man senses that Cal is nervous and tells him to relax while going into the room, with Cal then running off. He ends up in the parking garage where a potentially deadly game of cat and mouse takes place, with Cal hiding behind various cars and trying to prevent the killer (who's now drawn his gun) from spotting and killing him. That's briefly interrupted when a group of people enter the garage and go to their car, with Cal running and jumping onto the side of that as they start to drive off. They panic and drive faster, with the killer opening fire on the car, blowing out the back window. Cal then jumps off when it appears he's going to be sideswiped by a pillar, with that fleeing car than crashing into a police car that has just arrived (the killer runs off and gets away, while we see that Cal has injured his hand that is bloody).
  • After viewing a videotape where Dominic states that Sonia was pregnant, Stephen goes into that other room and pummels Dominic, including kicking him when Cal pulls them away (leaving Dominic with a little bit of a bloody mouth).
  • To destroy evidence, the killer grinds up his cell phone in a kitchen sink's garbage disposal.
  • SPOILER ALERT: Cal walks out to his car at night only to encounter the armed killer there. Just then, many police cars drive up and various cops aim their guns at the killer. Even so, he tries to shoot Cal who ducks out of the way as the police open fire on the killer, shooting him dead (no blood).



  • Reviewed April 13, 2009 / Posted April 17, 2009

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