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Summer of Sam



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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

MPAA Rating: R

Tempers and temperatures flare in New York City during the summer of 1977, when serial killer Son of Sam is still on the loose. With John Leguizamo, Mira Sorvino, Adrien Brody, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Rispoli, Saverio Guerra, Brian Tarantina, Al Palagonia, Ken Garito, Bebe Neuwirth, Patti LuPone, Mike Starr, Anthony LaPaglia, Roger Guenveur Smith and Ben Gazzara; directed by Spike Lee. [2:22]

SEX/NUDITY 8 - Lots of sexual innuendo (including references to oral sex and homosexuality) and many kisses, some passionate. We see a man behind a woman having intercourse with lots of moaning and movement (his underwear is at his ankles and we see his bare buttocks from the side) and a man lying on top of a woman while having intercourse with lots of movement (part of his bare buttocks is visible). During an orgy scene we see shots of two women kissing with a shirtless woman lying between them, a ménage à trois and various people having intercourse (bare breasts and buttocks are visible). A woman in her bra and panties sits on a man's lap and they move rhythmically while he touches her breasts and genitals, a woman in a bra puts a man's hand on her breast and a man lying on top of a scantily clad woman kisses her passionately and pulls down her top, revealing her bare breasts. In two scenes, women perform fellatio (no nudity is visible). A brief clip of a pornographic film shows faces of people having intercourse. Twice, we see two men walk into a bathroom together; it's unclear whether they're having sexual relations or taking drugs. A few times we see a man dancing suggestively on a stage in front of a male audience; once, he puts a male dummy's leg between his crotch and another time he puts a female dummy's face against his crotch. A man grabs his crotch and thrusts his hips at a man; a man puts his arm around another and wiggles his tongue at him. A woman grabs a man's clothed buttocks and a man slaps a woman's panty-clad buttocks. We briefly see a man and woman in a bathtub together (no nudity is visible). A few times, we see men in tiny, tight underwear (in one scene, a man in thong underwear dances in front of other men); we also see some women in cleavage-revealing tops and a couple in bras and panties.

VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - Many people are shot and killed; most are shot in cars (blood splatters on the windows and we see blood on their faces and bodies) and one woman is shot in the face (we see bullet holes in the book she's covering her face with, then see her bloody face and chest as she's lying on the ground). A man shoots into the camera several times and it's implied he shoots a dog (we hear the dog whimpering, but see it alive in later scenes). Two men get into a fistfight with another and beat him with metal trash cans, two groups of men briefly fight (some have bats and sticks), a man is pulled out of his car by a group of men and presumably beaten, a man is punched in the stomach and a man is thrown against a wall and verbally threatened. A man is surrounded by several others, hits one in the stomach and back with a guitar; he's then repeatedly punched and kicked by the others (his face gets very bloody). While dancing in front of a male audience, a man licks a knife blade, puts the knife against a female dummy's throat and then rips the dummy apart. A man burns a man's palm with a lit cigarette and a man spits on a woman and she slaps him twice. In a few scenes, a man screams, throws stuff against a wall and puts his head underneath a mattress and punches it; also, a man hits himself over the head with a bottle and gets a bloody gash (he licks a little blood from his finger) and a man punches a mirror twice. We see news clips of people looting stores and a car driving through a plate glass window. A man shoots into the air several times, then threatens a man with the gun. Some shoving, scuffling, yelling and verbal threatening. A man has a bruised face, apparently after being beaten. A woman scrubs a puddle of blood surrounding a chalk outline of a body and a man touches a corpse's face and gets some blood on his finger. We see a man injecting himself in the arm ("needle tracks" are seen in his arm). We hear and see a man vomit.

PROFANITY 10 - About 400 F-words, lots of anatomical and scatological references, lots of mild obscenities, lots of insults (most in reference to homosexuals), some racial slurs and some obscene finger gestures. [profanity glossary]

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Murder, serial killers, the 70s, infidelity, dysfunctional relationships, drug use, homosexuality, scapegoating, non-conformist behavior.

MESSAGE - In an effort to make sense of something difficult or tragic, we eagerly place blame on anything or anyone but ourselves.

Special Keywords: S8 - V8 - P10 - 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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