[Screen It]


(2000) (Sean Connery, Rob Brown) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy None Heavy Minor None
Mild Minor Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Minor Minor Moderate Minor

Drama: A reclusive author, known for publishing only one work, reluctantly tries to inspire, in his own unique way, a brilliant, but underachieving inner-city teen.
Jamal Wallace (ROB BROWN) is a smart, sixteen-year-old who lives in the Bronx with his mom, Janice (STEPHANIE BERRY), and older brother, Terrell (BUSTA RHYMES). An avid reader and writer, Jamal is a classic underachiever who'd rather play basketball with his buddies, including Fly (FLY WILLIAMS III), then let them know how smart he is by doing well in school.

Although his class grades are just average, his exemplary test scores as well as his prowess on the basketball court draw the attention of officials from Mailor-Callow, an exclusive Manhattan prep school, who want to give Jamal a full scholarship to attend.

In the meantime, Jamal takes a dare from his friends to climb up into the apartment of a mysterious man they always see watching them playing basketball from his window. Scared away once inside, Jamal forgets his backpack full of his writings in the apartment, but later has it thrown down to him by the still anonymous man.

Checking to make sure everything is there, Jamal discovers that the man has made critical notes about his writing. Intrigued by this, Jamal returns to the apartment and enters into an unlikely and unusual friendship with William Forrester (SEAN CONNERY), a famous writer known for his highly acclaimed but sole work, "Avalon Landing," that was published in the 1950s. Now a recluse, Forrester is intrigued by this young man who's so full of potential.

As Jamal enrolls at Mailor-Callow where he makes friends with Claire Spence (ANNA PAQUIN) and takes a writing class taught by a haughty professor, Robert Crawford (F. MURRAY ABRAHAM), he and Forrester end up teaching each other a thing or two about writing and life.

Those who are fans of anyone in the cast or of "Good Will Hunting" type films probably will, but the most likely audience would seem to be older teens.
For brief strong language and some sexual references.
  • SEAN CONNERY plays a reclusive author who hasn't left his apartment in years, drinks quite a bit and serves as an unofficial mentor to Jamal. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • ROB BROWN plays a brilliant but underachieving teen who's afraid to let his other inner city friends know just about smart he is. He eventually forms a unique friendship with Forrester, but uses some of his work in a school paper without his permission. He also uses profanity (some of it strong).
  • F. MURRAY ABRAHAM plays one of Jamal's private school professors, a haughty individual who's more interested in hearing his own voice than that of his students. He also forms something of a vendetta toward Jamal.
  • ANNA PAQUIN plays one of Jamal's classmates who befriends and then begins to fall for him.
  • BUSTA RHYMES plays Jamal's older brother who's proud of him.
  • FLY WILLIAMS III plays one of Jamal's inner-city friends who he hangs out with and plays basketball. He uses some profanity.


    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).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated drama. Profanity is listed as heavy due to at least 2 uses of the "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some brief, sexually related talk also occurs, while the 16-year-old protagonist twice hears graphic sexual sounds coming from the apartment next to his.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including a teacher seemingly intent on ruining a student's chances at his school), while an older character is a recluse who is or borders on being an alcoholic. Beyond that, some brief smoking and some thematic issues involving family matters and death via cancer, the rest of the film's remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content.

    Nevertheless, should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your family, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.

  • There's talk that Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Raven" while addicted to coke (cocaine).
  • Forrester pours himself a drink.
  • Forrester has another drink.
  • A deliveryman brings Forrester all sorts of items, including bottles of booze.
  • Forrester has a drink.
  • In a later scene, he pours himself another drink.
  • People have champagne, wine and mixed drinks at a party.
  • Forrester has another drink, and on some such occasions is either asleep or passed out when Jamal leaves at night.
  • Forrester has another drink, and then several more.
  • Forrester states that after the war, his brother returned and drank more (and then went drunk driving).
  • Forrester pours himself a drink.
  • None.
  • Jamal takes a dare/bet and climbs up the fire escape and then into Forrester's place (breaking and entering). Later, he lies to his mother about the whereabouts of his backpack (he left it in Forrester's place when he ran out).
  • A nervous white man (who delivers goods to Forrester) has somewhat of an elitist and possibly somewhat racist attitude toward Jamal.
  • Forrester initially appears to have a racist attitude toward Jamal, but we then learn that he was doing so just to see what kind of reaction he could get out of the teen.
  • Crawford is an egotistical and self-centered professor who's more interested in listening to himself than his students. He also questions Jamal's abilities and work (thinking he's just there for his basketball talent and not his smarts) and then seemingly sets out to ruin him.
  • Another player on the school's basketball team is immediately mean, disrespectful and competitive with Jamal for no reason other than being an elitist jerk.
  • Without Forrester's permission and disobeying his directive that any writing Jamal does in his apartment stay there, Jamal takes a piece Forrester previously wrote, keeps the first bit of it (and the title), re-writes the rest and turns it in as his own work.
  • We hear that the school board has turned down Jamal's scholarship, but will let him play in the championship basketball game (so that they can get their coveted win).
  • As a tiny bit of suspenseful music plays, Jamal slowly makes his way through Forrester's place for the first time, after breaking in, for a look around.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "F*ck you," "Oh sh*t," 'Bullsh*t," "I'm done with this sh*t," "Nigger" (said by a young black man while rapping), "Crack ho'," "Lying ass," "You're full of sh*t," "Cheap ass," "Shut up," "Pissed" and "Screw it up."
  • Jamal takes a dare/bet and climbs up the fire escape and then into Forrester's place (breaking and entering).
  • On a positive note, the film could inspire kids to want to write since it makes the process and results seem cool.
  • Forrester suddenly stands up and surprises Jamal.
  • A tiny bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 2 "f" words, 20 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("laid"), 8 asses (3 used with "hole"), 8 damns, 6 hells, 3 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh my God," 2 uses of "For God's sakes" and 1 use each of "Christ," "God," "Jesus" and "Oh Christ" as exclamations.
  • We see some students making out in the locker area of school.
  • As Jamal sits in his room, he (and we) hear sexual sounds coming from next door, including some rhythmic thumping sounds as well as that of an aroused woman who screams in pleasure and exclaims "I'm coming," etc.
  • Later, Jamal briefly talks about those neighbors making noises and banging the headboard against the wall. He then asks Forrester if he has anyone doing that kind of banging with him. In response, Forrester begins to describe what sounds like a male who's probably come straight from the park, but we then see that he's talking about a bird he's watching with binoculars.
  • As Jamal sits in his room again, he hears more sexual sounds coming from next door.
  • Forrester tells Jamal that men write books "to get laid." He then adds that women will sleep with you if you write a book and will even do so if you write a bad one. Jamal then asks if the former has ever happened to him and Forrester replies, "Sure."
  • Some miscellaneous characters smoke (cigarettes and one, a cigar) in several scenes.
  • Jamal's mother briefly tells his teacher that his father left sometime in the past, so she's raising both Jamal and his brother by herself.
  • Forrester briefly talks about his brother and mother's deaths.
  • Jamal's attempts to hide his intelligence from his friends.
  • Why people become recluses (just like Forrester has done).
  • Without Forrester's permission and disobeying his directive that any writing Jamal does in his apartment stay there, Jamal takes a piece Forrester previously wrote, keeps the first bit of it (and the title), re-writes the rest and turns it in as his own work.
  • We learn that a person has died from having cancer.
  • A basketball player pushes Jamal and the two then push each other, but nothing happens after that.
  • Forrester throws a drinking glass into a wall.

  • Reviewed December 4, 2000 / Posted December 25, 2000

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