Set It Off

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3 1/2

Life has taken wrong turns for four friends, African-American women from the same Los Angeles housing project, in this girlz 'n the hood drama. When a gang robs the bank where she works as a teller, Frankie (Viveca A. Fox) loses her job because she knew one of the thieves. Tisean (Kimberly Elise), a young single mother, can't earn enough money to pay a baby-sitter while she works as a night janitor. Stony (Jada Pinkett) hoped to send her younger brother to college, but he's mistaken for a robbery suspect and killed by the police. Cleo (Queen Latifah), a hard-edged lesbian, is mad at the world. These women decide to escape their circumstances and take something back from the system by robbing a bank themselves. Their first stick-up succeeds, leading to two more robberies. But a determined police detective (John C. McGinley) is on their tail, and their final big score turns sour. The story proceeds in obvious directions, with only a subplot involving Stony's ironic relationship with a bank executive (Blair Underwood) providing a decent distraction between the violent bank heists.

SET IT OFF aspires to be like THELMA & LOUISE and turn these women into heroes. But that puts the movie on shaky moral ground, trying to make bank robbery glamorous and exciting. The ending features a measure of tragic justice, although one character seemingly profits from the crimes, even if it came at a high price. Deadly violence is prevalent throughout the film, with several people killed by bloody gunshots. As they plan their robbery the women share a marijuana cigarette. Two sex scenes have suggested nudity, while female breast nudity is present when a man has sex with a prostitute. Cleo kisses her homosexual lover, who is also seen dancing suggestively in a revealing outfit. Foul language overwhelms, with over 150 obscenities and 50 crudities in addition to seven regular profanities. With its glamorization of criminal behavior and an overabundance of offensive material, SET IT OFF will hopefully disappear from the theaters quickly.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
New Line Cinema, 888 7th Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (50) times Mild 23, Moderate 27

Obscene Language: Many (151) times (f-word 95, s-word 53, other 3)

Profanity: Several (8) times Regular 7 (G-d), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Many times Moderate and Severe (multiple shootings with bloody wounds, gun threats, car chase, car accident, woman slaps man, woman slaps woman)

Sex: Few (3) times Once with female breast nudity, twice head and shoulders only

Nudity: Female rear and breast nudity; near nudity with low-cut dress, revealing outfit

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Man gives woman seductive massage

Drugs: Smoking, alcohol drinking, marijuana use

Other: Bank robbers portrayed heroically; black characters use racial slur twice (n-word)

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teenagers and Adults

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