O
R
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -3 1/2

When the coach (Martin Sheen) of Palmetto Grove Academy’s basketball team decides to publicly attribute their success to flashy star Odin James (Mekhi Phifer), the flames of jealousy begin to burn inside Odin’s teammate Hugo (Josh Hartnett), the coach’s son. Hugo does all the ‘dirty work’ on the team – setting picks, rebounding, and playing tough defense – but gets no recognition for it. So, he decides to take it out on the popular star by weaving a wicked plan to make Odin and those close to him pay for hogging the spotlight. At the top of Hugo’s list is stoking the fires of jealousy within Odin toward his girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles). And once Hugo gets Odin to think ill of his beloved Desi, it is only a matter of time before Odin’s own jealousy brings him down. Caught in the middle of Hugo’s twisted plot are his teammate Michael Casio (Andrew Keegan) and Hugo’s impressionable roommate Roger Rodriguez (Elden Henson). This contemporary retelling of Othello, Shakespeare’s classic tale of envy and jealousy, moves the setting to the posh surroundings of an elite, private high school in the American South. While the move to a contemporary setting involving teenagers has worked at least moderately well with certain recent films (ROMEO + JULIET, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU), it loses in this translation, particularly creating a believable relationship between Odin and Desi,. But O’s main attraction is the popular cast rather than its adaptation of Shakespeare.

Shakespeare brilliantly depicted the effects of jealousy on the human heart in his classic play and that emotional core survives in this retelling. Hugo is the first to be struck by it, but his jealously starts the epidemic, as it rages in his mind and those he influences. As the story unfolds then, the audience glimpses the disastrous and destructive results caused by a consuming jealousy to all those involved. However, the effects are not glamorized as several difficult-to-watch scenes depict people motivated by their jealousy. Some scenes cross into inappropriate territory, particularly one sex scene between teens, which begins as consensual but driven by the guy’s jealousy, turns to rape. Other sexual content in this high school setting includes explicit locker room conversations. Both steroid and cocaine use by some teenagers is also portrayed. Language further fouls out with more than 70 obscenities, numerous moderate crudities and some strong profanity. O was wisely delayed since its original release date followed close after the Columbine High School tragedy. And the depiction of the film teens’ activities as “normal” is a further tragedy.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Distributor: Lion’s Gate Films, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 501, LA, CA 90036

Summary
Crude Language: Many (22) times – Mild 7, Moderate 15
Obscene Language: Many (72) times - F-word 48, s-word 18, other 6
Profanity: Few (4) times – All Regular (GD 3, C sake 1)
Violence: Many times – Mild and moderate (people fighting/ punching, high fall to ground, man cut, people shot, woman strangled)
Sexual Intercourse: Once – Graphic (unmarried couple in bed with motions but no nudity – begins consensual but becomes forced)
Nudity: Near Nudity – Few times (woman shown topless from behind, couple nude during sex but nothing explicit shown)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Several times (innuendo about genital size, guys discuss concept of females desiring sex, comments about who’s having sex with who)
Drug Abuse: Few times (alcohol, steroids, cocaine)
Other: N-word used several times; film depicts what can happen when people allow their jealousy to rule them
Running Time: 91 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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