Pelican Brief, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1 1/2

John Grisham's taut suspense thriller comes to the screen in a somewhat slack two-hour plus adaption. Julia Roberts, in her first starring role in three years, plays Darby Shaw, a young law student at Tulane University. After two Supreme Court justices are mysteriously murdered on the same day, Darby uses her budding Constitutional Law research skills to uncover the murderer. She finds a motive and a link that goes all the way to the Oval Office. Her boyfriend, law professor Thomas Callahan (Sam Shepard), gives the details of her research to a friend at the F.B.I. The PELICAN BRIEF, as it is called, causes quite a stir. Suddenly Darby finds herself running from the police, the F.B.I., and those responsible for the murders. Not knowing what to do, she hooks up with reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington) who promises to help her expose the story. As they uncover more and more evidence, their lives become more and more endangered. Unfortunately, the excellent acting is not enough to energize the frequently sagging plot.

As might be expected in a thriller, violence plays a major role. The root of the evil perpetrated is greed. Human life and protecting endangered wild life species has less value than the "almighty" dollar to the killers. Seven people are killed, four of them shot in the head, two graphic. In one scene, the shooting itself is not seen but blood spills onto the T.V. screen. In another, blood splatters onto Darby as she is walking next to the man killed. One of the Supreme Court Justices is strangled while watching an X-rated movie in a theater catering to homosexuals. It is apparent from the sounds of heavy breathing that he is watching sex on-screen. There are some other sexual references, and Darby and her boyfriend are shown kissing and fondling each other, with intercourse implied. While there are many "hells" and "damns," in the dialogue, the script has only one obscenity and a few moderate crudities. The graphic killings add up to a negative verdict for this largely inoffensive movie.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Warner Brothers, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

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 (15) times - Mild 15; Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Once (s-word)

Profanity: Exclamatory - 3 times

Violence: Several times - Moderate and severe (seven people killed including four shot in the head from close range, two dying in car explosions, and one strangled)

Sex: None, but implied once

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (references to intercourse, heavy breathing on screen in X-rated theater )

Drugs: Alcohol drinking shown few times but not condoned; driving while under the influence attempted

Other: Environmental issues vs. greed central theme

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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