Importance of Being Earnest, The
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: +2 1/2

Two dashing bachelors, Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing (Rupert Everett and Colin Firth), have devised a clever way to dodge unwanted social and emotional commitments. Unfortunately and coincidentally, each presents himself to different family members as Earnest. When Jack falls in love with Algernons cousin Gwendolen (Frances OConnor) and Algernon falls for Jacks innocent 18-year-old ward, Cecily (Reese Witherspoon), their lives become entangled in a comical web of deceit. Gwendolens mother, Algernons Aunt Augusta (Judi Dench), puts Jack/Ernest through a grueling but hilarious questioning to prove hes a suitable suitor. Based on Oscar Wildes wildly (no pun intended) imaginative, witty stage play set in 1890s England, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is a real summer treat for teenagers and adults fascinated by the Victorian era.

What a tangled web Algernon and Jack spin when they pretend to be Earnest. However, they do suffer consequences and learn a great lesson from their deceit. But social pressures encouraged deceit in that era, because the importance of being well bred was seen as more important than being honest. Aunt Augusta insists that orphaned Jack/Ernest find out who his parents were, even though he lives in a country estate, has a townhouse and no unpaid bills. The story implies its acceptable to be penniless, if you know how to sponge off other people, which is what Algernon does with his wealthy friend Jack. Its all tongue-in-cheek, of course, and makes fun of the phoniness and shallowness of the English upper class. Absolutely free of foul language, violence and explicit sexual content, EARNEST has some slightly sensual material. A picture of a nude woman appears briefly, and Gwendolen has the name Earnest tattooed on her posterior. Later, Jack has her name tattooed on his. Only the name is shown, but it is shocking that a genteel young lady of that era would even consider a tattoo. Witty dialogue and positive lessons without objectionable material get a plus from Preview for THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Miramax Films, 375 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10013

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: None
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Once (painting of nude woman)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times (characters getting posteriors tattooed; reference to passionate celibacy)
Drug Abuse: Few times (cigarette smoking)
Other: Deceit reaps consequences
Running Time: 102 minutes
Intended Audience: Teenagers and adults

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