Tea With Mussolini

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI features a four-star cast with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Cher. Based on film director Franco Zeffirellis memoirs, it takes place in Florence, Italy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Five-year-old Luca (Charlie Lucas) has been abandoned by his father, who never married Lucas recently deceased mother. Grandmotherly Mary (Plowright) takes Luca to live with her and solicits the aid of her friends. Hester (Smith), the very proper widow of an English ambassador, considers a photo of her sipping tea with Mussolini her prize possession. Arabella (Dench) still dreams of being a famous artist and introduces the boy to classic art. The three, referred to as the scorpiono because of their stinging, critical comments, concentrate on making Italian Luca a proper gentleman. Another equally influential character in Lucas unusual life is flamboyant Elsa (Cher), a wealthy American art dealer who dazzles the boy with her generous and free spirit. As World War II explodes, the English ladies become the enemy, Jewish Elsas life is threatened and the now teenage Luca (Baird Wallace) must choose where his loyalties lie. TEA WITH MUSSOLINI bubbles over with a winning combination of humor, pathos and drama. It should prove to be a popular movie choice for mature audiences.

PG-13 would be a more accurate rating for TEA WITH MUSSOLINI. Elsa admits marrying for money four times and takes a lover even though she is married. She and her lover appear in bed together once, and a nude profile of him is shown briefly. Also disappointing is Lily Tomlins portrayal of an openly gay American living in Florence. She and a young girl dance suggestively, and several comical references to her homosexuality are made. Hester disguises her very normal teenage grandson as a girl so that he can stay with her during the occupation. The film has no gratuitous violence, although Nazi troops attempt to destroy an art institute, creating dangerous situations. But the films heroic theme honors the bravery of these women as they band together and face the enemy. The values and strength they instill in Luca mold him into a successful, caring adult who never forgets them. For its six regular profanities, gratuitous lesbian behavior and brief male nudity, this otherwise inspirational film earns a slightly negative acceptability rating.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughn
MGM, 2500 Broadway St., Suite 4127, Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061

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: Several (6) timesMild 3, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Once (no f or s words)

Profanity: Many (13) timesRegular 6 (GD 4, G-sake 2), Exclamatory 7

Violence: Few timesModerate (soldiers attact embassy, windows broken; German tanks invade town)

Sex: None; Implied once (unmarried couple in bed, profile of nude man)

Nudity: Once (very brief profile of nude man in bedroom scene)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Several times (social drinking, smoking)

Other: Teenage boy disguised as girl for safety reasons

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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