Cradle Will Rock

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -2 1/2

Based on a mostly true story, this film revolves around The Cradle Will Rock, a play written during the 30s that stirred controversy, and raised issues about censorship and Federal power over the arts. The play, written by struggling and unemployed Marc Blitzstein (Hank Azaria), finds a director in the infamous Orson Welles (Angus MacFadyen). The story of the play is interwoven with several other events that help heighten the tension between the government and artists. Nelson Rockefeller (John Cusack) commissions artist Diego Rivera (Ruben Blades) to paint, what becomes, a controversial mural in the lobby of Rockefeller Center. Margherita Sarfatti (Susan Sarandon), an Italian loyalist and propagandist, sells art masterpieces to millionaires to fund Mussolinis war efforts. And Tommy Crickshaw (Bill Murray), a paranoid ventriloquist, attempts to rid his theater of any Communist influence. Murray as the overly suspicious and offbeat ventriloquist and MacFadyen as the raucous and opinionated Welles are fantastic. While the film is well written with plenty of star power, its somewhat unique storytelling makes a huge hit at the box office unlikely.

During the Depression Era of the 1930s, the federal governments Works Progress Administration provided funding to theaters to bring low cost entertainment to Americans. The funding gave the government a lot of power over the theater and the film raises the issue of how much the government should be involved in the arts. Industry giants, like Rockefeller, with an interest in art also contributed to artistic efforts. But also felt their money allowed some control over the artists. Artistic control, a subject of debate even today, is the central theme of the film. And the movie definitely wants artists to express themselves however they please, without fear of being censored. The First Amendment allows people to express their views. However, responsibility, social restraints, and even patronage are seen as unwanted censoring. The film includes a brief sex scene with a woman shown topless. In another scene, two women pose nude for a painting with full frontal nudity shown. Foul language occurs numerous times with 11 f-words, 10 regular profanities, and 3 moderate crudities. The film's misguided message of no restraint on art, along with sexual content, gratuitous nudity, and offensive language lets CRADLE WILL ROCK roll right off of our list.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Buena Vista Pictures (Disney Co.), 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91521

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 (14) times Mild 11, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Many (15) times - F-word 11, s-word 1, other 3

Profanity: Many (12) times - Regular 10 (GD 5, G 2, J 1, G sake 2); Exclamatory 2 (Oh God, Good Lord)

Violence: Once Mild (police break up riot)

Sex: Once with breast nudity (couple in theater)

Nudity: Few times (In sex scene, frontal female nude as models pose for painting, female breast in paintings); Near Nudity - Few times (women show cleavage)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (references to sex and incest)

Drugs: Many times (smoking, alcohol)

Other: Artist says that nothing is inappropriate in art, rich and powerful want to control and censor art; comment that art means whatever the individual wants it to mean

Running Time: 132 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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