Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Monster’s Ball

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Extremely strong language, including racial epithets
Nudity/Sex:Very explicit sexual situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking and smoking
Violence/Scariness:Brutal violence, excplicit execution, suicide, death of a child
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:2001

“Monster’s Ball” is the derisive term the prison guards use for the gruesome ceremonies the night before a death row prisoner is to be executed. In the movie of that name, Hank (Billy Bob Thornton), one of those guards, clings to his hatred and racism as a way of distancing himself from his loneliness and misery. He throws two black boys off his property, even though they are his son’s friends. He cannot even allow himself to agree to call a condemned man’s child just before execution to tell him that his father will not be allowed to say goodbye to him. And when his son (Heath Ledger), now a third generation death row guard, gets sick while escorting the prisoner to the electric chair, Hank brutally assaults him physically and emotionally. Although it is clear that it is Hank’s own vulnerability and isolation that terrifies him, the attack and its aftermath are horrifying.

Meanwhile, Leticia (Halle Berry), the condemned prisoner’s wife, is desperate. Her son drowns his misery in candy and is very overweight. She has lost her waitress job, her car has broken down, and she is about to lose her house.

Hank and Leticia see their lives as hopelessly bleak, and they get worse as unspeakable tragedy strikes them both. In a way, the tragedy frees them. Having lost everything, there is no longer any reason to try to hold on to old notions and old fears.

The artificiality of the plot is a distraction, at times seeming like a bizarre version of the old Hollywood imperative that the romantic couple has to “meet cute.” But Thornton and Berry are magnificent. Berry deservedly won an Oscar for her brave and vulnerable performance and Thornton matches her every step of the way. The dignity and poignancy of both performances is deeply moving. Sean Combs is outstanding in his brief appearance as Leticia’s husband, demonstrating great dignity and a range of emotion as he prepares for his execution.

Parents should know that this is an extremely brutal movie. It includes an explicit execution, a suicide by gunshot, the death of a child, and extremely explicit sexual situations, including prostitution. There are very disturbing family situations involving emotional and physical abuse. Characters use very strong language, and they drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about how people become racist and how we find help when we need it. Do you agree with what Hank decided about his father? What is Leticia thinking at the very end of the movie? What do you think will happen next?

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Sling Blade, which Thornton wrote, directed, and starred in.



Previous Posts

Christopher Orr on the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing"
One of my favorite critics writes about one of his favorite movies in The Atlantic: the highlight of Christopher Orr's outstanding series on the Coen Brothers' films is his essay on Miller's Crossing. Whether you're a fan of the Coens or of this film or not, Orr's essay is a pleasure to read for it

posted 3:53:09pm Sep. 23, 2014 | read full post »

New on ABC: Black-ish
One of the best new shows of the year is Anthony Anderson's "Black-ish."  Anderson plays Andre "Dre" Johnson has a great job, a beautiful mixed-race doctor wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids, and a colonial home in the mostly-white suburbs.  But now that he has given his children a bett

posted 10:20:50pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

The Real Story: Tracks and Robyn Davidson's Long Walk Across Australia
Mia Wasikowska plays real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson in "Tracks," based on the 1980 international best-seller about her 1700-mile walk across Australia with four camels. A thoughtful interview with Davidson in The Australian describes her: Davidson is an enigma. With her patrician air, prim

posted 3:51:08pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: The Dancing Traffic Light
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk[/youtube]

posted 8:00:15am Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

TrueSpark: Teaching Children and Teens About Character With Quality Films
I am honored to serve on the advisory committee for TrueSpark, which provides quality films and curricula for schools at no cost to use in teaching character. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/akEWIRfjnxk?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Parents and teachers who want to lear

posted 8:22:33pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.