This Boy's Life

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -3

THIS BOY'S LIFE is an emotionally intense, disturbing film. It's the true story of teenager Toby Wolff (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his recently divorced mother, Caroline (Ellen Barkin), as they struggle to survive in the late 1950's. For no particular reason, they go to Seattle where Caroline meets and marries Dwight (Robert DeNiro), an abusive, overbearing auto mechanic. When he takes Caroline and Toby to live with him in a picturesque small Washington town, their already troubled existence becomes a nightmare. Toby has difficulty in adapting to life, skips school and hangs around with some dirty talking friends. Dwight takes it upon himself to "straighten him out" and continually verbally abuses Toby. In outbursts of rage, he even severely beats and kicks him. Toby knows he must escape from this trap.Although Caroline tries to make the marriage work, she knows she cannot go on. Some viewers will find the film engrossingly realistic, while others will find it depressing. Even so, all the cast give fine performances.

In a story which features a demented, cruel father and a worldly wise vagabond teenager and his mother, unsavory behavior and language abounds. Toby and his crude, cigarette smoking friends sit around and see who can talk the dirtiest. Before her marriage to Dwight, one of Caroline's boyfriends definitely has sex on his mind, and practically attacks her on a living room sofa. On their wedding night, Dwight and Caroline are shown in a prolonged, explicit, sometimes abusive, sex scene, although no nudity occurs. Dwight is not only abusive, but crude and profane. The film's dialogue contains numerous obscenities, including many f- and s- words and profanities. The only real bright spot in the story is the love and devotion which Toby and Caroline share. At the same time, Toby's determination to escape from his predicament gives some cause for hope. The story itself is intensely traumatic and its frequent offensive elements further detract from its appeal.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
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 9, Moderate 6.

Obscene Language: Many (49) times (f-word 22, s-word 12, other 15)

Profanity: Many (21) times - Regular 17 (GD, J, JC); Exclamatory 4

Violence: Many times - Moderate and severe (fighting, beating, striking, kicking, biting, finger injured, frequent verbal abuse, malicious auto damage)

Sex: Once - Prolonged, explicit, unconventional, but no nudity; Once implied by sounds; aggressive assault on sofa.

Nudity: Near nudity once - pornographic photo (brief)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (crude references to intercourse, genitals and unconventional sex)

Drugs: Many times (man frequently drinks whiskey straight from bottle and glass; men and boys smoke cigarettes frequently)

Other: None

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