Primary Colors

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -3

Jack Stanton (John Travolta) and his wife, Susan (Emma Thompson) emerge out of the role of first family in a southern state to focus on Jack winning the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. He's shrewd, lewd and utterly charming. He supports adult literacy programs, and can bring listeners to tears describing his own underprivileged childhood and an uncle who never learned to read. How could the spinster librarian resist this handsome, caring man's sexual advances? As the campaign escalates and Jack's adoring volunteers and young, idealistic staff members follow him all over the country, dirty politics rears its ugly head. Allegations of infidelities, even a young girl's pregnancy, make headlines. The Stantons are clones of the Clintons, right down to their hairstyles and his raspy voice.

PRIMARY COLORS, based on a book by Joe Klein, is basically a documentary spiced up with two colorful characters played by Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates. A de-sensitized public already saturated with details of sleazy scandals may find this "fiction" barely newsworthy. To keep PRIMARY COLORS from being too "documentary," the dialogue has been inundated with 106 obscenities, 22 regular profanities and 28 crudities. Then they added Libby (Kathy Bates), a recovering mental patient and proud lesbian who snares one of the pretty campaign workers into her lair. Libby is a foul-mouthed former campaign worker for Governor Stanton, and threatens permanent bodily harm to anyone who doesn't cooperate in backing her man for President. Another veteran campaign worker (Billy Bob Thornton) propositions a young woman in front of her colleagues, exposing himself to her, but not on camera. Susan lashes out at Jack, slapping him hard when she finds out the womanizing rumors are true and later slaps one of the workers out of frustration. Stanton can wriggle out of any accusation or rumor through deception and lies that manage to fool even his closest allies. Perhaps this film's satirical look at the sad state of our once proud country's political process will inspire citizens to exercise their voting privileges more frequently and more judiciously. But suffering through two-and-a-half hours of filthy language and crude humor will turn away discerning viewers.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Universal Pictures, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

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 (28) times - Mild 9, Moderate 19

Obscene Language: Continuously (106) times - f-word 49, s-word 44, other 13

Profanity: Many (25) times - Regular 22 (J, G-d, G, C, C-sake, J-C), Exclamatory 3

Violence: Few times --Moderate (woman slaps husband, staff worker; woman threatens man with gun)

Sex: None, but implied twice (unmarried couple in hotel bed; political candidate and librarian come out of bedroom adjusting their clothes)

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (man exposes himself to woman, propositions her; husband grabs wife's clothed breasts; many crude references and slang terms for sex and genitals)

Drugs: Some social drinking

Other: Politics portrayed as deceptive, vindictive and crooked

Running Time: 134 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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