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Argo [2012] [R] - 3.6.7



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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During the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis a CIA agent (Ben Affleck) is charged with rescuing six American hostages under the cover of a phony movie-filming scheme. Working closely with the Canadian Ambassador to Iran (Victor Garber), he keeps the hostages safe and delivers them home after several days of intrigue. Also with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Kyle Chandler. Directed by Ben Affleck. [2:00]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - At a Hollywood gathering, two women wear movie costumes that consist of sequined dresses that reveal breasts with gold pasties covering their nipples; the sides of the dresses are open and show skin from under the arm down the side, the hip, the thigh and leg. In a sci-fi film, two women wear skimpy tops that reveal cleavage, with matching swimsuit bottoms and skirts like long scarves; an alien with them is a centaur with a man's bare chest, shoulders and arms revealed. A man puts on a shirt and we see his bare chest.
 A man and a woman embrace briefly in three scenes.
 A CIA official asks another man if a third man is in the building and the second man replies with a crude sexual remark. We hear that a man and his wife are separated and their son lives with the wife.

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - Military officers shoot a man in the abdomen in the street, without visible blood; he falls and is still breathing as the scene ends. A man is shown hanging by his feet with his bare back covered with wide bloody streaks. We see a man hanging by the neck from a construction crane arm in the sky on a main street in Tehran.
 Several men are covered with black hoods over their heads and are led in front of an Iranian firing squad where rifles click and prove to be empty, causing the victims to fall to their knees and cry.
 Protestors storm the American Embassy in Tehran as embassy officials shout to employees to burn and shred all information in the building, we see boxes of files shredded and thrown into an incinerator as protestors run through hallways while shouting and then gag over 50 Americans and take them as hostages; American soldiers fire tear gas canisters, and their commanders warn them not to kill anyone lest they begin a bloody war. Iranian soldiers stop several Americans from boarding a plane and question them about their work; after explaining a movie storyboard in Farsi to the lead army officer, they are allowed to board the plane until Iranian military and police officers in cruisers chase the plane on the runway and a soldier shoots through locked glass doors in the terminal to reach the tarmac.
 At the Tehran Airport, an Iranian civilian and a soldier have a fistfight: the first man is taken away by authorities, leaving his wife and little girl shouting and crying. Iranian protestors block a street through which Americans drive a van slowly and the Iranians beat on the van as it passes by; no one is injured but men and women inside the van look shaken and frightened. Several air traffic controllers are arrested at gunpoint.
 CIA officers ague loudly several times. CIA agents run through CIA headquarters in a panic, looking for their bosses and shouting. In Iran, hostages argue about their fear in attempting to escape and one says, "I think we're going to die here. Two men speaking on a telephone argue and one slams his receiver down loudly; the other man breaks a drinking glass and a figurine with his receiver. Two CIA agents have a heated discussion about whether six hostages can bicycle 300 miles out of Iran without being captured; another agent says that this operation is like an abortion, in that they should not try to do it themselves. A producer and an agent in Hollywood argue and curse briefly about the purchase price of a script; the agent tells the producer sarcastically to get his cataracts removed. In a crowded bazaar in Tehran, people of different nationalities argue loudly for several minutes about whether photography is allowed; a crowd gathers and the shouting becomes louder when several Americans and Canadians leave the bazaar.
 We hear that the Shah of Iran killed thousands of people over 37 years, including many babies held by their mothers. We hear that the Shah had cancer and moved to the USA, where his health declined. We hear that protestors called for the Shah to return to Iran to answer for the massacre of its people. In America, we see that a high school boy interviewed by the media about Iranian turmoil states, "We should just shoot a couple of them and show them what we can do, make an impression." Gun-toting protestors call Americans "terrorists." We hear a sarcastic remark that Iranians eat blood on their breakfast cereal. We hear about Iranian torture techniques, including pulling fingernails out and threats of firing squads. We hear that Iranians will kill captives before ever considering putting them in prison. An Iranian official announces into the camera, "Canada will pay."
 We see newsreel footage of war in Iran in 1953. Throughout the film, we see many Iranian protestors chanting "Death to America" and waving banners in Tehran. We see protestors and many Iranian army men and women carry rifles. Truckloads of Iranian soldiers with rifles continually cruise the streets. Protestors burn an American flag, an Iranian flag and a human male effigy in close-up. Posters of a black rifle raised by a hand in the air appear on walls and poles. In a nighttime scene, a parked car is shown in flames. TV newscasts replay several protest scenes.
 In a sci-fi movie scene, a centaur with horns rises to a seated position on a gurney and growls into the camera. In a make-up hut, we see an array of grotesque rubber alien masks with fangs, horns and/or antennae. A movie storyboard contains several space-age men and women that are shown carrying ray guns and shoot at other men and women.
 A man says he took a leak next to Warren Beatty at an awards party.

PROFANITY 7 - About 26 F-words, 1 obscene hand gesture, 7 scatological terms, 6 anatomical terms, 8 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, puppets, camel vet, genius, lunatic, big shot, 007, space-witch), stereotypical references to diplomats, terrorists, G-men, government officials, Americans, Asians, Canadians, Jews, Africans, Iranians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hollywood directors and producers, the White House staff, 6 religious profanities, 3 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - In a sci-fi movie a woman gives an alien an injection of an unknown substance. A man has a can of beer with a hamburger in his hotel room, men and women drink wine and whiskey with dinner in several scenes, men and women drink mixed drinks after a dinner, a man takes a bottle of whiskey to his hotel room and is shown drinking from the bottle, men and women at a party drink wine and mixed drinks, a man opens a bottle of champagne on an airplane after a flight attendant announces that alcohol can be ordered, and a man drinks whiskey on a plane. American men and women smoke cigarettes in many scenes (in offices, in houses and apartments, at two parties, in a meeting, on an airplane and on the street), two men smoke cigars once, and we see three large ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts and some are still burning in a few scenes.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Middle East politics, war, torture, theocracy, Islam, differing religions, women in different cultures, media bias, cooperation, loyalty, responsibility, family, conflict and reconciliation.

MESSAGE - International cooperation saves lives.

Special Keywords: S3 - V6 - P7 - MPAAR

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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