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(2001) (Douglas McGrath, Sigourney Weaver) (PG-13)

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Comedy: After lying about being a government agent, a bumbling high school grammar teacher finds himself working in Cuba for the CIA and becomes involved in early attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro.
It's the early 1960s and Allen Quimp (DOUGLAS MCGRATH) is a henpecked high school grammar teacher whose wife, Daisy (SIGOURNEY WEAVER), wants the better things in life that his current job can't provide. After her father puts pressure on him to get a better job, Allen decides to make up a lie to get both of them off his back. Inspired by the sight of several letters on a robe, he comes up with the fib that he's really working undercover for the CIA and that the fact that he's the last person anyone would confuse for such a person means he has the perfect cover.

Although sworn to secrecy, Daisy soon informs everyone in town about her husband's "real" job, eventually causing Russian ballet dancer Rudolph Petrov (RYAN PHILLIPPE) to come to him to defect. While the CIA is upset that Allen is impersonating one of their agents, they decide to make him a real one so that they can take credit for Petrov's defection. Accordingly, they then decide to send him to some third world backwater where he'll be out of sight. Thus, he arrives in Cuba, where CIA Officers Fry (DENIS LEARY) and Lowther (WOODY ALLEN) inform him of the current political climate, which they see as benign despite the growing turbulence and instability.

After accidentally learning the identity of a double agent the "company" has been looking for over the past several years, Allen is suddenly the hot topic of conversation, a point that pleases Daisy to no end since she's writing a novel about her husband's secret life. Things become more interesting when Allen meets a rogue agent, Crocker Johnson (JOHN TURTURRO), who has the recently overthrown dictator, Fulgencio Batista (ALAN CUMMING) in tow.

Johnson seeks to undermine and remove Cuba's new leader, Fidel Castro (ANTHONY LAPAGLIA), from office and wants Allen's help. From that point on, and as we see some of the ensuing events in flashback as Allen testifies in hindsight in front of a secret Senate hearing headed by a disbelieving Senator (JEFFREY JONES), Allen, Johnson and Batista then attempt various schemes to overthrow Castro, eventually leading to their involvement in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
For sexual humor and drug content.
  • DOUGLAS MCGRATH plays a high school grammar teacher whose lie about being a CIA agent eventually gets him a position in the agency where he's then sent to Cuba and becomes involved in the various attempts at overthrowing Castro. He also has a habit of correcting everyone's grammatical errors.
  • SIGOURNEY WEAVER plays his high maintenance wife who pressures him into being a better provider for her expectations of living a better life. After she discovers her husband's secret job, she decides he must do anything and everything to give her material to write her novel about his exploits.
  • JOHN TURTURRO plays a rogue and maniacal CIA agent who desperately wants to overthrow Castro.
  • ANTHONY LAPAGLIA plays the cigar-smoking leader of Cuba who's just overthrown the former dictator.
  • RYAN PHILLIPPE plays a Russian ballet dancer who defects.
  • DENIS LEARY plays a CIA officer who confesses to some wrongdoing after Allen's behavior drives him crazy.
  • WOODY ALLEN plays the CIA leader in Cuba who acts like most any other typical Woody Allen character.
  • ALAN CUMMING plays the overthrown dictator, Batista, who comes off as a materialistic and effeminate fop.


    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 comedy that's been rated PG-13. Some drug-related humor is present in the form of the protagonist hesitantly drinking some water laced with LSD (and then experiencing hallucinations), after another character jokes about taking the drug several times a day. Some other such related humor is present, while various characters drink and smoke.

    Some sexually related humor is present (most of the more risqué material appears in the end credits, including a woman reacting sexually to something an unseen person is doing to her and the sight of what looks like something resembling a gay and/or S&M bar), as is some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue.

    Profanity consists of just a handful of expletives and colorful phrases, while various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (all under the context of a comedy). A few instances of imitative behavior are present, as are some comedic style moments of violence, while various weapons are seen (but most aren't used).

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home who may want to see it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs and is present in the film.

  • The drug humor listed below is meant to be viewed as that of a screwball comedy rather than in any sort of a realistic fashion.
  • Allen and Daisy have wine while eating, as do others around them.
  • Daisy's father mentions to Allen something about getting a 9 to 5, three-martini job.
  • People have wine or champagne at a reception.
  • Lowther orders wine. Fry later tells Allen that Lowther's problem is that he talks too much when he drinks.
  • Batista has some brandy.
  • Some people drink in a bar.
  • While trying to come up with any way to get rid of Castro, Allen mentions that he's heard of a drug called LSD, and that they'll put it into his water. When someone asks where he'll find some LSD, Lowther says that he has some and then goes on to say that he uses it every now and then when he feels depressed. He then clarifies that by saying he uses it every evening and morning and sometimes for lunch if the day isn't going well.
  • We then see them pouring some LSD into Castro's glass of water, but after a mix-up, Allen drinks it instead and begins to hallucinate (we don't see what he sees, but just him acting high, etc.).
  • We see a maid carrying some drinks.
  • Castro and Gorbachev have drinks near them.
  • After smoking a poisoned cigar but then saved by the antidote, a band member groggily wakes up and states that whatever they earlier took definitely weren't uppers.
  • A CIA official drinks from a flask.
  • Someone mentions something about a bad acid flashback.
  • A woman drinks in a piano lounge/bar.
  • A joke comes from Petrov saying that he wants to "defecate" and then corrects his English by saying he wants to defect.
  • To prove how committed he is, Agent Johnson takes a knife and slices both of his forearms with it, resulting in some slightly bloody cuts.
  • Most of what's listed below is meant to be viewed in a comedic rather than realistic sense.
  • Depending on one's point of view and notwithstanding the comedic approach the film takes, Castro may be seen as having a bad attitude for his overthrow of Batista (who, as presented here, is more of a fop than a ruthless dictator).
  • Some might be offended by Daisy's statement that for a book to sell it needs to be about sex, shame and people losing control of themselves, like in Peyton Place and the Bible. Someone else later says something about the Bible interfering with their faith in God.
  • Both Daisy and her father put pressure on Allen to get a "real job" so that she can live in the style she wants and thinks she deserves.
  • Allen tells a white lie to Daisy's father about being in the CIA. That man then tells her, and she in turn tells everyone else (although they're all supposed to keep it a secret).
  • Daisy's father jokes that the only CIA Allen could be in would be the Cowering Idiots Association.
  • An agent confesses to Allen that he's the notorious Agent X (wanted by the CIA).
  • Allen lies to Daisy in a letter about the hired help, referring to a voluptuous young woman as an older woman.
  • None.
  • Handgun: Fired by Agent Johnson in Allen's place, and later aimed by a guard at Batista.
  • Knife: Used by Agent Johnson to slice his own forearms to show how committed he is.
  • Rifles: Carried by miscellaneous Cuban guards/soldiers.
  • Machine gun: Briefly held by Allen.
  • Hand grenade: Held by Johnson.
  • Various poisons: Used in attempts to kill Castro.
  • We hear an explosion, but don't see anything.
  • Various weapons (including what looks like a bazooka): Carried by members of the Bay of Pigs flotilla.
  • Phrases: "Balls" (testicles) and "Nut" (crazy person).
  • A man lights an old car on fire with a Molotov cocktail (we don't see the actual impact, just the man carrying the bottle and then, moments later, the car being on fire).
  • Some men in the background of a shot burn an effigy of Batista.
  • To prove how committed he is, Agent Johnson takes a knife and slices both of his forearms with it.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 1 ass, 6 uses of "Oh my God," 3 of "Oh God," 2 of "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • Most of what's listed below is meant to be played for laughs rather than eroticism.
  • Daisy shows some cleavage.
  • Daisy tells Allen that for a book to sell it needs to be about sex, shame and people losing control of themselves, like in Peyton Place and the Bible.
  • We see Allen and Daisy's father in a sauna with just towels covering their groin areas.
  • Upon hearing that Allen is in the CIA, a woman at a reception tells him, "Anytime you want to go undercover with me, feel free."
  • We hear that Lowther left his codebook in a Soviet brothel some time in the past.
  • A woman who's working with Allen shows some cleavage.
  • While hallucinating on LSD, Allen starts to take of his clothes and then looks down into his shorts and exclaims that there's a mongoose in there. Daisy then sarcastically remarks that if he sees a mongoose in there, he's definitely hallucinating.
  • A woman who's presumably supposed to be Marilyn Monroe shows some cleavage.
  • While looking around his old stomping grounds with Daisy, Batista suggestively tells her, "If this bed could talk…"
  • A man opens a door to find several scantily clad women eagerly awaiting J.F.K., but he quickly closes the door as he realizes he opened the wrong one.
  • During the end credits there's a brief bit with Daisy sitting up in bed (we don't see her lower half) where she's enthusiastically saying something about "coming" and having a real man (suggesting that someone is doing something to her sexually, but below the camera shot), and then later see a bizarre scene set in what appears to be a dimly lit bar where it looks like many nude men are hanging out (but we don't see any explicit nudity - and it may possibly be a joke about being some sort of gay bar, possibly of the S&M variety).
  • Then, and still during the closing credits, Allen alludes to Petrov that he and a woman fooled around in the backseat of a car and then states that it was the first time for both of them, and that the woman stated that it changed her life (with the joke being that she's now a golf pro who bunks with an ex-nun).
  • Castro smokes or holds cigars in several scenes, a CIA official smokes several times, Lowther smokes once and some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • The CIA tries to get rid of Castro with a box of poisoned cigars (seen), but several members of a rock group smoke them instead (and are knocked out from them, but don't die).
  • None.
  • Fidel Castro and the real events surrounding the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
  • How Allen's lie spirals out of control.
  • Allen's insistence in correcting other's grammar.
  • LSD.
  • None of what's listed here is meant to be viewed in a realistic fashion, but instead is meant to be viewed as screwball comedy material.
  • A man falls off the hood of a moving car after jumping there trying to stop Petrov from defecting.
  • A man lights an old car on fire with a Molotov cocktail (we don't see the actual impact, just the man carrying the bottle and then, moments later, the car being on fire).
  • There's talk of people being hanged in the past due to a CIA official leaving a codebook in a Soviet brothel.
  • Agent Johnson breaks through a window or double doors. He then pulls out his handgun and fires it (but no one is harmed). He then proceeds to cut both of his forearms with a knife to prove how committed (and crazy) he is, and then briefly threatens Daisy with that knife.
  • Agent Johnson grabs Allen by the face and in something of a headlock while trying to get his point across to him.
  • Allen and Agent Johnson attempt to poison Castro with cigars and a liquid poison, but are unsuccessful.
  • A guard holds a gun on Batista and seems prepared to shoot him, but Daisy whacks him over the head with a bottle, knocking him out.
  • We hear an explosion, but don't see anything, and Daisy backhands two guards who've grabbed her, apparently knocking them out.

  • Reviewed March 5, 2001 / Posted March 9, 2001

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