Perfect World, A

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -2 1/2

This latest project from director Clint Eastwood paints a grim picture of a society desperate for responsible and caring fathers. Using the backdrop of the Kennedy years, Robert "Butch" Haynes (Kevin Costner) escapes a Texas penitentiary with his cellmate, Terry. The pair kidnaps a young Jehovah's Witness boy, Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther) for a hostage. To protect Phillip from his warped partner, Butch eventually kills Terry. Now wanted for prison escape and murder, Butch must evade Texas Ranger "Red" Garnet (Eastwood) and young criminologist, Sally Gerber (Laura Dern). During their travels, Butch and Phillip discover both had absent fathers and their mutual fondness for RC Cola. But old habits and poor parental modeling seemingly trap Butch in a criminal mindset. His attempt to be a father to young Phillip is cut short with tragic results. Though the plot formula for A PERFECT WORLD is familiar, Eastwood's directing and Costner's acting make it a credible and touching drama.

The film attempts to inject realism through its offensive language, property damage, stolen cars and three murders. In one scene Butch propositions a waitress in a revealing, low-cut dress. Even with Butch's criminal past, he expresses absolute contempt for abusive fathers. He ties up one abuser and points a gun at his face. There is a strange sense of justice in that scene, yet the depravity of murder is also exposed. While Butch's evasion of the law is chronicled, it is not glorified. His fate is clear proof that there is no substitute for integrity. There is minimal attempt to understand the rationale behind Jehovah's Witness practices, and Butch encourages Phillip to forsake such old-fashioned notions. Once again Hollywood undermines anything which smacks of the Judeo-Christian tradition. However, the overall message is clear: It heralds a call to all fathers to actively love their sons with a strong hand, one worthy of a child's trust. The film's adult subject matter would probably more appropriately be rated "R."

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Warner Bros., 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 (36) times - Moderate 6; mild 30

Obscene Language: Many (17) times - F-word 1; s-word 12; other 4

Profanity: Many (10) times - Regular 8; Exclamatory 2

Violence: Several - Moderate and severe (three murders; graphic gun wounds; weapon brandished; shoving; child physically abused on-screen; man's nose broken; elderly man falls from moving car; property damage)

Sex: None

Nudity: Near nudity (revealing dress)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (waitress propositioned; crude references to genitals; implied inappropriate touching of child's genitals)

Drugs: Smoking

Other: Anti-Jehovah Witness remarks; stealing cars; boy steals costume (condoned)

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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