Ice Storm, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -2

THE ICE STORM, set in Connecticut during the 1970s, disturbs more than it entertains. Ben and Elena Hood (Kevin Kline and Joan Allen) are unable to communicate with each other or their two teenagers. Ben turns to Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), whose only interest in Ben is physical. Her husband, Jim (Jamey Sheridan) is just "there." Fourteen-year-old Wendy Hood (Christina Ricci) pursues first Mikey Carver (Elijah Wood) and then his younger brother Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd). It's Thanksgiving week-end, when families feel obligated to act thankful, but their cover-up is as transparent and cold as the icicles hanging from the trees. Elena suspects the affair between Janey and Ben. Wendy withdraws from the family. And her 16-year-old brother, Paul (Tobey Maguire), has gone into New York City hoping to "score" with one of his classmates. As a severe ice storm moves in, tragedy melts the family's coldness into a genuine Thanksgiving. A strong cast and a nostalgic look at the seventies will not be enough to attract large audiences to this depressing film.

The highlight of a neighborhood cocktail party is a "key" game in which the women pick a key ring from a large bowl, and go home with the owner of the keys. Amused, pseudo-sophisticated spouses watch their mates leave with someone else, and adultery is implied. They all read the latest psychology books on free thinking, New Age religion and the joys of sex. Wendy's search for love and warmth leads her to experiment sexually with Mikey. Then she and Sandy explore each other's bodies in the bathroom. The young girl and Sandy also drink vodka from a bottle, remove their clothes under the covers and fall asleep in each other's arms. Paul's school roommate mixes all kinds of drug concoctions to inhale, and others invade medicine cabinets, mix beer with pills and promptly pass out. Motion, not emotion in sex scenes illustrates how meaningless and unsatisfying promiscuity is. Foul language includes 8 s-words, 2 f-words and 5 regular profanities. A fatal electrocution from fallen live wires is the film's only violence, which is not gratuitous. The film's depressing message may inspire some to examine their own family relationships; however, some graphic sex, obscenities and profanities earn it a negative acceptability.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Fox Searchlight Pictures, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035

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 (5) times - Mild 3, Moderate 2

Obscene Language: Many (11) times - F-word 2, s-word 8, other 1

Profanity: Several (6) times - Regular 5 (GD 1, J 2, J-C 1, God's sake 1), Exclamatory 1 (Oh God)

Violence: Once (accidental electrocution)

Sex: Few times, no nudity (unmarried couple in bed, teenagers on couch, unmarried couple in car, graphic but no nudity; implied married couple once, teenagers after passionate kiss)

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (young teenagers kiss passionately, sleep together naked and explore each others' bodies; sexual bodily functions are discussed, crude references to sexual activities)

Drugs: Many times (drinking, drunkenness at cocktail party; teenagers smoke marijuana, take drugs, drink vodka, beer and wine)

Other: Lack of morality, New Age philosophy

Running Time: 114 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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