Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 17+
Brad Pitt is magnetic in smart, cynical, bloody crime movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Killing Them Softly -- a crime movie based on a 1970s novel by George V. Higgins and starring Brad Pitt -- has a few extremely violent beatings and killings, with lots of spurting blood. Language is also very strong and frequent, including an almost constant use of "f--k." One character is shown having slept with a prostitute (though there's no nudity), and there's some very crass sex talk in a few scenes. A character is a drug dealer and uses heroin in a vivid scene, and another character is an alcoholic. Overall the movie has a shockingly cynical worldview, but smart older teens and adults might be interested in thinking about and discussing what it has to say.
- Families can talk about Killing Them Softly's violence. How does the impact of what you see here compare to what's in horror/slasher movies? What does it mean when Pitt's character talks about killing his targets "softly"? Does he actually do that?
- Is James Gandolfini's character an alcoholic? What makes him drink? Does he appear to be drinking for pleasure? Are there consequences for his drinking?
- Do you agree with the main character's assessment that America is a business and not a community? Why or why not?
- Why is the movie set in 2008? What does the story have in common with the financial collapse and the election of that year?
The good stuff
Positive messages: This extremely cynical movie sees all of America, including organized crime, as a corporation focused mainly on the bottom line. It denies that there's anything like community, and posits that people -- in reality -- generally don't care about one another.
Positive role models: The characters in this movie are hit men, alcoholics, whoremongers, gamblers, gangsters, robbers, junkies, and drug dealers, not to mention selfish and greedy. Not one of them learns any lessons during the course of the story.
What to watch for
Violence: Three characters are shot and killed, with lots of spurting blood. One of the hits is shown in ultra-slow-motion, with blood and brains spraying in great detail. A character is beaten senseless, with more spurting blood (and vomit). Two criminals are shown driving a carload of kidnapped dogs, with dog excrement all over the windows. The car is blown to smithereens and crashes into a bystander.
Sexy stuff: A scene begins just after a character completes a transaction with a prostitute. She zips up her dress and collects her money (no nudity shown). There's some very crass sex talk in this scene and others.
Language: Language is extremely strong and frequent, mainly in the use of "f--k" and its various permutations. Other words include "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," "a--hole," "ass," "anus," "nuts," "screw," "d--k," "prick," "hell," "damn," and "bastard," as well as "for Christ's sakes" and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). Characters also give the middle finger.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: One secondary character is a drug dealer and is shown shooting heroin. The movie tries to replicate the experience of being on heroin by showing the character's point of view as he nods off during a conversation. Another secondary character is shown to be an alcoholic, chugging down martinis and beers and later whisky. The main character drinks a few swigs of beer in more than one scene.