- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on www.commonsensemedia.org.

‘Shoot ‘Em Up’

Rating: R

Common Sense Media: Pause. For ages 17 and older.

…(out of five stars)

Running time: 87 minutes

Common Sense review: The action in “Shoot ‘Em Up” starts right away. Minding his own business, Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) is barely bothered when he first sees a screaming pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) running from a gun-wielding assailant. But, being a hero, Smith is soon engaged in trying to save the woman. When the woman is killed amid the mayhem, Smith is left guardian of her infant. And with that, the plot begins.

Outrageous and antic, Michael Davis’ film simultaneously spoofs and pays homage to everything from Bugs Bunny to Indiana Jones and James Bond. Superskilled (he was trained by the U.S. military in his secret past) and intensely focused, Smith is determined to save the baby, although he knows nothing about how to feed or clothe it.

Smith is so fast and furious during his always-triumphant encounters with bad guys that he’s deemed a “wascally wabbit” by the malevolent Mr. Hertz (Paul Giamatti). The pair’s antagonism escalates exponentially, accompanied by all manner of gunplay and wild stunts.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that this over-the-top, gun-focused action movie brims with wild violence and its effects. Much of it is presented in a comic, cartoonishly excessive way, but characters are still left torn, bloodied, bruised and broken. Violent acts are mostly shooting-related, but there are explosions and car crashes too — all with painful-looking results. Language is salty, but probably not as plentiful as you would expect — mostly because so much of the screen time is spent shooting instead of talking.

Families can talk about the movie’s cartoonish approach to violence. How does seeing the kind of extreme violence typical of Looney Toons shorts translated to live-action affect your opinion of both approaches? Is animated violence easier to stomach than its real-life counterpart? Why do we as filmgoers like to see things go bang and blow up? What are the consequences of violence in real life? What messages is the movie sending about guns and “gun control”?

Sexual content: Repeated female nakedness, particularly breasts. Frequent references to and images of prostitutes. An elaborate, comic sex scene has the woman moaning ecstatically as she and partner are shot at and assaulted (no explicit body parts are seen, but nudity is clear, as is the activity).

Language alert: Some clever use of language, plus a range of spoken-yelled vulgarity.

Violence alert: Many, many guns. They’re shot, thrown, exploded, bought, brandished, compared, cleaned, heated to burn someone and arranged into grand traps. Lots of loud gunfire, car crashes, bloody bodies dropping, blood spurting and oozing, and lasting wounds, scars and bruises with bloody bandages. The first scene shows a mother giving bloody birth, after which she’s fatally shot. The baby is frequently in danger; at other times, Smith teaches him the parts and uses of a handgun.

Social-behavior alert: The hero is stoic and virtuous — and a killing machine; the villain is snarly and underhanded; a politician is hypocritical.

Drug-alcohol-tobacco alert: Hertz takes a combination of vodka and Tylenol; reference to morphine.

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