[Screen It]


(2000) (Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire) (R)

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

Drama/Comedy: In the midst of a unique midlife crisis, a college professor most cope with the affair he's having with his boss' wife, as well as a troubled, but talented student and his desperate editor who wants his long-delayed and unfinished second novel.
Having reached the half-century mark of his life, writer and college professor Grady Tripp (MICHAEL DOUGLAS) isn't particularly overjoyed by the way his life is turning out. Despite having written a well-received novel, "Arsonist's Daughter", seven years earlier, he's since been plagued by the uncertainty of being able to match its success, thus resulting in a follow-up novel that's now more than 2,600 pages long.

To make matters worse, his third wife has left him, he's in love with the university's chancellor, Sara Gaskell (FRANCES McDORMAND) -- who happens to be married to his boss, Walter (RICHARD THOMAS), the chairman of the English department -- and a strange fellow, Vernon Hardapple (RICHARD KNOX), seems unnaturally fixated on his car.

While his students, including Hannah Green (KATIE HOLMES), who's renting a room in his house, and James Leer (TOBEY MAGUIRE), his most talented but misunderstood writer, admire him, Grady is paralyzed by the thought of finishing his novel. Things don't improve then, when his hip but desperate editor, Terry Crabtree (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.), shows up in town supposedly for a three day writer's conference, but is really there wanting Grady's novel.

As if having to deal with all of that, as well as the presence of Q (RIP TORN), a successful and prolific writer, wasn't bad enough, Grady's problems are compounded when James shoots Sarah's dog and then takes a valuable collectible from the Gaskell's home. From that point on and as the police get involved, Grady tries to figure out how to deal with the multitude of problems in his troubled life.

If they're fans of someone in the cast they might, but this one seems most attractive to older teens at best.
For language and drug content.
  • MICHAEL DOUGLAS plays a troubled college professor who's going through a midlife crisis while trying to finish his second novel. Along the way, he uses strong profanity, smokes a lot of dope and continues his affair with his boss' wife.
  • FRANCES McDORMAND plays that woman, the chancellor of the university, who finds herself pregnant from that affair (to which she briefly considers abortion) and briefly uses strong profanity.
  • TOBEY MAGUIRE plays a gifted but disturbed student writer, who shoots Sarah's dog to defend Grady, steals a valuable collectible from her home, ends up in bed with Crabtree and briefly uses some strong profanity.
  • ROBERT DOWNEY JR. plays Grady's gay and hip editor who smokes, drinks and eventually gets James in bed with him.
  • RICHARD KNOX plays a man fixated on Grady's car (that may or may not actually be his) who also uses strong profanity.
  • KATIE HOLMES plays one of Grady's students who also rents a room from him (and seems somewhat attracted to him).


    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 summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/comedy hybrid. Profanity is rated as heavy due to several uses of the "f" word, while other profanities and colorful phrases are also used. The main character smokes pot quite often during the film (with another character briefly doing so), while drinking and smoking are also present.

    Bad attitudes are present in the form of two characters who are having an affair (that results in the woman begin pregnant and then briefly considering having an abortion), while some viewers may take offense at the film's use of a dog being shot and its body being carried around as sources of humor/black comedy.

    A supporting character is gay (and is accompanied by a transvestite when we first see him) and eventually and apparently beds a male student (we don't see any activity, but do see them in bed the following morning), while some violence (the dog being shot, some threats with guns) also occurs.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may wish to see this film, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.

  • Grady smokes a joint after commenting that he needed to "clean my head." When Grady later tells Crabtree that the "woman" with him is really a transvestite, the editor tells Grady that he's "stoned." Grady then replies that the woman is still a transvestite.
  • People have drinks at a reception where Sarah carries a martini. At this reception, Grady says that he normally doesn't drink, but he does, as does Walter, Q and others.
  • Grady smokes a joint outside the reception.
  • Grady down some codeine (with liquor) for the pain in his leg (from a dog bite). James then tries to do the same (from Grady's encouragement), but ends up choking and spitting the pill out and onto Grady.
  • People have drinks in a bar where Grady orders a double. He then sees that Crabtree and James have been drinking, with the latter nearly appearing to be passed out. Crabtree and Grady then drink shots of liquor.
  • Grady smokes another joint.
  • James finds a joint in Grady's glove compartment and then mentions that his father gets it for his colon cancer. Grady then smokes the joint and shares it with James. Later, James has a case of the "munchies" from smoking the joint. Grady then tells him that if he smokes another joint, James can start chewing on the box holding some donuts.
  • James finds a bottle of bourbon in someone else's house, and we then see him drinking some of it as well as smoking a joint.
  • James pulls out a bag of marijuana from Grady's glove compartment, causing the latter to tell the former to "lay off my dope."
  • Grady smokes another joint.
  • People have drinks at a party.
  • Grady smokes another joint.
  • We see empty beer bottles and cans at Grady's house after a party.
  • Hannah comments on Grady's use of drugs while writing. He states that he's not the first writer to use some "weed" and then adds that he was high when he wrote his first novel and when he later received an award for it.
  • Grady drops a bag of pot down to a janitor.
  • Grady's leg is bloody from where Sarah's dog bit him.
  • A student criticizes James' writing by saying, "Jesus. What is it with you Catholics?"
  • We learn that Grady and Sarah have been having an affair (and she's pregnant from it) despite both being married (although Grady's wife has left him).
  • Some viewers may find the material surrounding the shooting of a dog (that was attacking someone) and the latter use/misuse of its body for comedy as being in bad taste.
  • After James shoots and kills Sarah's dog (that was attacking Grady), the two leave with the dog's body without telling her or her husband (although Grady tries several times to do so). In addition, we later learn that James took a valuable collectible from their house as well.
  • For those opposed to abortion, for a while Sarah talks about not keeping her unborn baby, but does eventually deliver the baby.
  • Hardapple rears up and then sits down hard on the hood of Grady's car, putting a large dent in it. Later, he steals the car, but we're then not sure who the car really belongs to.
  • Grady has James crawl through a doggie door into his in-laws' home so that both can enter it looking for his estranged wife.
  • For those afraid of dogs, Sarah's dog attacks Grady, biting him on the leg, and won't let go.
  • Some time after Grady has taken a small handgun from James, it falls out in the presence of Sarah. When she asks about it, he tells her that it's a cap gun. In turn, she holds it to his chest as if she's going to pull the trigger (and he's understandably nervous), but doesn't.
  • At the beginning of what appears will be another of his fainting spells, Grady momentarily looks as if he may fall over a railing and down a stairwell.
  • Small Handgun: Carried by James and used to shoot Sarah's dog after it attacks Grady.
  • Handgun: Used by Hardapple to threaten Grady.
  • Phrases: "Holy sh*t," "Rat's ass," "Piss off," "Loser," "Piss," "Chick" (for woman), "Hell hole," "Freak" and "Bastard."
  • Hardapple rears up and then sits down hard on the hood of Grady's car, putting a large dent in it.
  • Grady has James crawl through a doggie door into his in-laws' home so that both can enter it looking for his estranged wife.
  • Grady (and occasionally James) smoke pot during the film.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song contains lines about a woman sitting on the singer's lap, drinking champagne, as well as the word "hell."
  • At least 8 "f" words (2 used with "mother"), 13 "s" words, 3 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck"), 6 hells, 1 ass, 1 damn, 1 S.O.B., 7 uses of "Jesus," 3 each of "Christ" and "For Christ's sakes" (one of which is incomplete), 2 of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "God," "Oh Jesus" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • Crabtree is gay and when we first see him, he's accompanied by a tall transvestite. Later, at a reception, we see the two of them coming down the stairs with the implication that they may have been fooling around up there.
  • Sarah informs Grady that she's pregnant from their affair.
  • When Grady sees Crabtree being interested in James, Grady tells his editor that the last thing James needs is sexual confusion to mix up things (although Crabtree disagrees with him).
  • A comment is made about someone putting something on his "d*ck" to make it more stimulating for his "chick." Grady then jokes that all sorts of things (salad dressing, ground lamb, etc.) were rubbed on it.
  • The picture of a woman on a book cover shows cleavage.
  • Grady finds Crabtree and James in bed together (under the sheets) implying that they had sex (or at least fooled around) and spent the night together.
  • Crabtree smokes around five times, Sarah starts to smoke but Grady stops her, and a character in an old movie smokes.
  • We hear that Grady's third wife has left him. Later, he and James sneak into her parents' house looking for information about her whereabouts.
  • James mentions that his parents are dead and doesn't seem to get along with his grandparents who come to get him, but it's never clear if this is the truth or James is lying (about the people coming to get him being his grandparents and not his parents).
  • The way in which Grady - a middle-aged college professor -- behaves and reacts to the events and people surrounding him.
  • Affairs.
  • Suicide - James rattles off a list of celebrities and the ways in which they killed themselves.
  • Smoking pot.
  • Writer's block and/or trying to match or best one's previous accomplishments.
  • Sarah's dog attacks Grady and bites him on the leg. In response, James shoots the dog twice, killing it (we don't see the impact, but do then see the dog's dead body).
  • Hardapple rears up and then sits down hard on the hood of Grady's car, putting a large dent in it.
  • Hardapple holds his gun on Grady's head, trying to get him to get out of what he claims is his car.
  • Crabtree accidentally drives a car into a wall, but isn't harmed.

  • Reviewed February 10, 2000 / Posted February 25, 2000

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