Pallbearer, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -2

If you have seen THE BIG CHILL, then you have seen THE PALLBEARER. Touted as a comedy, it's more of a dark drama with a few laughs interspersed. Tom Thompson (David Schwimmer), a 25-year-old college graduate, still lives with his mother. He can't find a job or a girlfriend. However, when he is reunited with his high school crush, Julie (Gwyneth Paltrow), his world brightens. But then he receives a mysterious phone call from a woman named Ruth Abernathy (Barbara Hershey) who asks Tom to be a pallbearer at her son's funeral. The problem is that Tom can't remember Ruth's son and yet he is named in his will. Out of sympathy, he falls into a relationship with Ruth, beginning a series of mishaps and mistaken identities that are difficult to set straight. Although there are a few laughs, THE PALLBEARER creeps along at the pace of a funeral, leaving viewers wishing for a proper burial.

Quite surprising and disappointing in this PG-13 film is the constant use of profanities and obscenities. The Lord's name is taken in vain 20 times and there are 11 obscenities. Sex is shown as an escape from reality and not something sacred to be shared between husband and wife. Mrs. Abernathy uses her affair with Tom to numb her grief, and Julie uses sex as a distraction from her problems. Three scenes of Tom in bed with either Mrs. Abernathy or Julie, although not explicit, do contain some near breast nudity. Eventually, Tom matures and does what is right for both women, even though the choices he makes are not easy ones. An offensive bachelor party with women dancing in their underwear while the men stuff money in their garter belts and stockings just doesn't seem appropriate for a PG-13 film. Tom's friends laugh at him as he tries to eulogize at the funeral of a stranger. Also tasteless is Tom's apparent attempted suicide in his closed car in the garage, which is treated humorously. Although Tom matures into a more responsible person, THE PALLBEARER'S offensive language, promiscuous sex and light treatment of death and suicide make it poor viewing for discerning audiences.

Preview Reviewer: Sherry Oswald
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., NY, NY 10017

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 2, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Many (11) times F-word 2, s-word 5, other 4

Profanity: Many (20) times - Regular 9 (J, G), Exclamatory 11

Violence: Few times - Mild (pushing and shoving, dish broken)

Sex: Once - obscured (unmarried couple, near breast nudity), implied twice (couples in bed)

Nudity: None; near nudity - several times (low-cut dress, girls dance in underwear at party, man in brief swimsuit, bedroom scenes)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (men stuffing girls' underwear with money at party, kissing)

Drugs: Several times (drinking and cigarette smoking)

Other: Laughing at funeral; implied suicide attempt treated comically

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Young adults

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