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This Boy's Life



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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

Ellen Barkin, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio star in this film adaptation of Tobias Wolff's much-acclaimed memoir, about growing up with an abusive step-father and a flighty, but loving mother.

SEX/NUDITY 4 - No actual nudity. There are two sex scenes, though: one involves dirty talk, and groping and kissing while a bed is shaking. The other is rather more explicit, as one character talks about unorthodox sexual positions. There's lots and lots of sex talk, and some hint of homosexual attraction between adolescents (a tentative kiss on the cheek from one boy to another).

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - One fight between two boys involves punching and rolling around in the mud. The result is a few welts on one of the boy's face. More serious is the violence between a boy and his stepfather: when the stepfather tries to show his stepson how to box, a fight erupts. In another scene, the two go at it with fists, dishes, a mop, a bat, and all manner of home-furnishings. In yet other disturbing scenes, the stepfather pinches, punches, bites, kicks or tries to strangle the boy. He even grinds a near-empty mustard jar into his stepson's eye. Gore consists of a bloody finger.

PROFANITY 7 - A lot of profanity, especially among teenagers. There are approximately 20 F-words, as well as several references to the male and female anatomy. [profanity glossary]

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Premarital sex, homosexuality, child abuse, family violence and neglect, forgery, lying, smoking at a very young age, vandalism and truancy.

MESSAGE - You can change your life, and it may be as easy as just walking away from a troubled situation. You don't have to settle for less than any human deserves.

Special Keywords: S4 - 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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