Contender, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Lust for power creates the intense backdrop for this political drama starring Joan Allen as Senator Laine Hanson. The highly respected liberal Democrat has been chosen by the president (Jeff Bridges) to replace his recently deceased vice president. But first Laine must come under the microscopic scrutiny of the Judiciary Committee headed by ultra-conservative Senator Runyon (Gary Oldman). His personal choice for the vice presidency is the Governor of Virginia who makes headlines with his heroic but unsuccessful attempt to save a drowning woman. By the time the congressional hearings begin, Laine's impeccable political record is all but obliterated by a scandalous photograph taken when she was a freshman in college. The ruthlessness of her opponents versus her refusal to respond in kind develops into a suspenseful, timely tale. THE CONTENDER will generate lively debates and conversations among those fascinated by behind-the-scenes politics.

The lines of "good" and "bad" are clearly drawn conservatives wear the black hats and liberals, the white hats. Senator Runyon's pro-life passion is presented as the rantings of a self-righteous fanatic, while Senator Hanson speaks eloquently of pro-choice rights. She has a strong marriage, a young son but is a self-proclaimed atheist who worships in the "chapel of democracy" and equates Jesus with the tooth fairy. The conservative Runyon's wife speaks to him with bitter contempt. All the characters indulge in pretty raw language, especially the Governor of Virginia's wife, who curses like a sailor. A total of 50 obscenities includes 33 f-words, plus 15 regular profanities. The explicit sex photo flashed on-screen several times of a young woman having sex at a fraternity party includes breast nudity. Another scene implies sex between Laine and her husband with brief rear male nudity. The only violence is the image of a frantic drowning woman trapped in a car. The ugly side of politics, an unfair bias toward conservatives and anti-religion statements, along with unnecessary foul language, make THE CONTENDER an unlikely candidate for recommended viewing.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Dreamworks SKG, 100 Universal Plaza, Bldg, 477, 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 (20) times - Mild 7, moderate 13

Obscene Language: Many (50) times - F-word 33, s-word 13, other 4

Profanity: Many (15) - Regular (GD 6, G-sake 1, C-sake 1, JC 3, C 2, J 2)

Violence: Once (drowning woman trapped in car)

Sex: Graphic photo of sex act with breast nudity flashed several times; implied once between husband and wife with brief male nudity

Nudity: Several times (breast nudity in photo, brief male rear in sex scene)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (woman describes sexual incident; remark about need for sex)

Drugs: Social drinking, cigar and cigarette smoking

Other: Political dirty tricks; atheist woman compares Jesus to tooth fairy and claims to worship democracy instead of God; conservative politicians portrayed as bigots

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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