[Screen It]


(2002) (Rupert Everett, Colin Firth) (PG)

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

Comedy: As two men romantically pursue two women, they end up caught in their convenient lies of making up or pretending to be a fellow named Earnest.
Algernon "Algy" Moncrieff (RUPERT EVERETT) and John "Jack" Worthing (COLIN FIRTH) are two bachelors living in 1890's England who've fabricated fictional characters for their own advantage and convenience. Algy, the dashing and charming but always broke nephew of haughty Lady Bracknell (JUDI DENCH), always gets out of social engagements he'd rather not attend by saying he has to tend to his ailing but entirely fictitious friend, Bunbury.

Jack, on the other hand, has informed his country estate staff that he has a scoundrel of a brother named Earnest that he must constantly bail out of trouble, but uses that name for himself whenever he's in the city. In fact, Algy always knew him as Earnest, and this revelation piques his curiosity about Jack's "other life" that includes caring for his young ward, Cecily Cardew (REESE WITHERSPOON), who's always being tutored by Miss Prism (ANNA MASSEY).

Meanwhile, Jack is enamored with Algy's cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax (FRANCES O'CONNOR), and would like to propose to her, but Lady Bracknell will have no part of that, particularly when she learns that Jack has no proper heritage. To try to remedy that, he then sets out to discover the identity of his parents, but is interrupted when Algy shows up at his country estate posing as his brother Earnest.

That pleases Cecily as she's always fantasized about the ruffian she's never met, but things become more complicated when Gwendolen decides to pay Jack a visit, particularly since both women think both men are named Earnest. As Miss Prism deals with her own potential romance with the local rector, Rev. Canon Chasuble (TOM WILKINSON), the two men must deal with the consequences of their respective and collective ruses.

Unless they're a fan of someone in the cast, Oscar Wilde's works or period comedies, it's not very likely.
For mild sensuality.
  • RUPERT EVERETT plays a pampered bachelor who gets by on his wit and charm. Delinquent with paying his bills, he uses a fictitious friend to get out of social events he wishes to avoid and then acts like Jack's fictitious brother in his effort to woo Cecily. He also drinks and smokes some.
  • COLIN FIRTH plays his more conservative friend who's also a bachelor and who's also made up a fictitious identity for himself when he's in the city as well as a made-up brother. When Lady Bracknell won't let him marry Gwendolen due to his lack of heritage, he sets out to find who his parents are/were, all while dealing with Algy showing up and pretending to be his brother. He briefly drinks and smokes.
  • FRANCES O'CONNOR plays Lady Bracknell's adult daughter who wishes to marry Jack mainly because she thinks his name is Earnest. She briefly smokes.
  • REESE WITHERSPOON plays Jack's niece and ward who daydreams about medieval romance and falls for Algy. She briefly smokes.
  • JUDI DENCH plays Gwendolen's conservative mother and Algy's haughty aunt who disapproves of her daughter's desire to marry Jack.
  • TOM WILKINSON plays the local rector near Jack's country estate who's sweet on Miss Prism.
  • ANNA MASSEY plays the older woman who tutors Cecily on Jack's country estate and who's fond of Dr. Chasuble.


    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).

    The following is a quick look at the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG. A few instances of sensuous kissing occur, some classic artwork (paintings and statues) shows female nudity, a few women show cleavage, some brief and non-explicit sexually related comments are present, and a woman briefly shows a tattoo that appears to be on the fleshy part of her buttocks (seen in extreme close-up).

    Several characters drink and/or smoke, two of them make up or pretend to be fictitious characters (a few other bad attitudes are also present), and some people briefly struggle with each other (played for comedy).

    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.

  • Various people drink in some sort of venue where Algy and Jack also drink.
  • Algy and Jack drink, as do various other people.
  • Jack drinks and then pours himself some more as well as some for Algy.
  • A butler pours a drink for Algy.
  • None.
  • While played in a comic vein, both Algy and Jack have made up imaginary people that they use as their excuse for getting out of any commitment they don't want to attend (thus they lie to others).
  • Algy apparently doesn't pay his bills (and thus occasionally has bill collectors after him).
  • Lady Bracknell informs Gwendolen that she won't be marrying Jack, and that when she will be married, she (Lady Bracknell) or her husband will inform her of such.
  • Algy mentions that the only way to behave toward a woman is "to make love to her if she's pretty and someone else if she's plain."
  • Gwendolen briefly has something of a condescending attitude toward Cecily, but that quickly abates and the two become fast friends.
  • A woman admits to abandoning a baby in the past.
  • None.
  • None.
  • While played in a comic vein, both Algy and Jack have made up imaginary people that they use as their excuse for getting out of any commitment they don't want to attend (thus they lie to others).
  • Gwendolen gets a tattoo for Jack (and we later see the reverse).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Some cancan women bend over at the end of their performance, flip up their dresses, and show their frilly undergarments to the crowd, while various women show some cleavage in their low-cut dresses.
  • Cecily opens one of her books and briefly looks at a classic painting that shows a completely nude woman from the front (bare breasts, but no pubic hair).
  • As Jack prepares to propose to Gwendolen, she sensuously kisses him on the face and neck.
  • Algy mentions that the only way to behave toward a woman is "to make love to her if she's pretty and someone else if she's plain."
  • Algy and Cecily briefly kiss and then do so again.
  • Gwendolen gets a tattoo for Jack (and we later see the reverse), and we briefly see hers that's apparently on her rear (or near it as we see the tattoo artist working back there - seen from her front - as well as a close-up of the tattoo on a fleshy part of her body near that area).
  • A classic statue shows bare breasts.
  • We see a flashback to a cancan dancer who shows cleavage and then rubs her belly, presumably indicating she's pregnant to a man who's there.
  • When it appears they've reached an impasse about who can marry whom, Jack comments that all they can apparently look forward to "passionate celibacy."
  • Jack and Gwendolen briefly kiss.
  • Algy smokes a few times (cigars and cigarette), while Jack, Gwendolen and Cecily each smoke once, while some miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • Algy briefly offers a woman a cigarette while catching a ride in her carriage, while we later learn that the cigarette case he's using belongs to Jack who's been looking for it.
  • While questioning Jack for his potential to be a suitor to Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell asks if he smokes. After a pause, he admits that he does and she replies that she's pleased (adding that it's good for a man to have an occupation since there are far too many idle men).
  • Gwendolen isn't happy that Lady Bracknell (her mother) won't let her marry Jack.
  • Jack admits to not knowing who his parents were and that he was found in a handbag at a train station.
  • Jack tells his country staff that his brother is dead (and he carries an urn of ashes), but we know that he's making all of that up (and it's all played for viewer laughs).
  • Trying to deceive others and then having to deal with being caught at doing that.
  • Lady Bracknell telling Gwendolen who and when she can marry.
  • Played entirely for comedy, Jack briefly struggles with Algy with his hands at his neck (while angry at him).
  • A bill collector briefly strong-arms Algy while trying to escort him to a car.
  • Algy and Jack briefly struggle over a bowl of muffins (played for comedy) and then do the same over some wild flowers.

  • Reviewed May 15, 2002 / Posted May 24, 2002

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