Vice Parent Guide
The film's stellar cast means every scene offers someone to watch for.
Parent Movie Review
Vice follows the unlikely journey of two-time Yale dropout Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), a “ne’er-do-well” from Wyoming as he climbs the political ladders in Washington to the position of Vice President under George W. Bush. The film examines his relationship with his wife, Lynne (Amy Adams), and daughters Mary (Allison Pill) and Liz (Lily Rabe) as they become public figures and political players. It tracks the development of constitutional legal opinions, American foreign and domestic policy making, and political strategies within political parties and the White House.
Obviously, with an “R” rating from the MPAA, this is not a film suitable for children. It is also not a film for those with a low tolerance for profanity, as even the opening title card contains a sexual expletive. Viewers will want to be aware of the violence in the film – particularly the disturbing scenes involving American military personnel torturing prisoners. Some of these scenes also involve partial nudity. Other violent episodes are related to domestic assault, a bar fight, and a hunting accident. Sexual content is limited to kissing and a sexual joke. Drugs are not used in the film, but smoking is shown on several occasions and characters sometimes drink to excess, with extremely negative consequences.
These content issues aside, the movie’s stellar cast means every scene in the film offers someone to watch for. Despite his real-life reputation as a quiet and secretive person, Bale as Cheney manages to command attention in every frame. Steve Carrell gives Donald Rumsfeld a far warmer persona than he projected as Secretary of Defense and is usually remarkably funny. And Lynne Cheney gets a very interesting portrayal by Amy Adams, as a sort of Lady Macbeth figure who spurs her husband’s ambitions and encourages his political maneuvering.
Frankly, given his remarkable rise, it’s surprising no one has made a movie about Dick Cheney before. How did a man who worked on power lines and flunked out of an Ivy League university transform the institutions and norms of American politics? And how then, after altering the nation, does such a man disappear back into a very private life? I suppose it makes sense that no one wants to ask too many questions of a man who said that “torture works” and welcomes comparisons to Darth Vader. I certainly wouldn’t want to poke around. Good thing for curious moviegoers that director Adam McKay is taking the risks for us. Hopefully he has the sense not to go hunting with the former VP now that the film has released.Directed by Adam McKay. Starring Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams, and Steve Carell. Running time: 132 minutes. Theatrical release December 25, 2018. Updated February 20, 2019
Watch the trailer for Vice
Rating & Content Info
Why is Vice rated R? Vice is rated R by the MPAA for language and some violent images
Violence: A man is punched in the face during a barfight. There is a brief depiction of domestic violence. There are disturbing scenes depicting torture by the American armed forces, including captives being threatened with dogs, tied up, forced into cages, and waterboarded. A bomb occurs near a home and burned corpses are seen. Scenes of combat are shown but are not explicit. An armored vehicle is destroyed by an IED in Iraq. There is real footage of US airstrikes on targets in Iraq. There is footage of the 9/11 attacks, but this is limited to the images of planes striking the towers. There is a scene showing a train car covered in blood in the aftermath of the 7th July 2005 attacks in London. Frequent, graphic references are made to different types of terror attacks. A man is accidentally shot in the face with birdshot but is not fatally wounded. There is graphic footage of a heart transplant. A car accident is shown and a woman is later seen with a bloody shirt. A man slams a car door on another person’s head.
Sexual Content: A character makes a joke about group sex. Men’s bare buttocks are seen in gruesome torture scenes, and in an abduction scene. Couples are seen kissing. There is a joke about group sex. A character comes out to her family as gay. There are conversations about gay marriage.
Profanity: Frequent profanity throughout the film including approximately two dozen sexual expletives and derivatives, another dozen scatological curses, a dozen terms of deity and six or seven anatomical terms. Frequent name calling is peppered throughout the film.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are shown drinking socially in multiple scenes. A character is shown to be extremely intoxicated in a few scenes, including one in which he drives under the influence. This is depicted extremely negatively, and at one point the character is incarcerated as a result. Men are shown smoking in several scenes.
Page last updated February 20, 2019
Vice Parents' Guide
Dick Cheney supports “enhanced interrogation techniques”, normally referred to as torture. He believes that they work. Do you agree with him? Do you think the United States has paid a price for torturing terror suspects? Are there other costs associated with torture?
Read books about Vice
If you want to hear Dick Cheney’s perspective, try his memoir, In My Time. Cheney also defends his America First doctrine in Exceptional, a book he co-wrote with his daughter, Liz.
Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack and The War Within both dig deep in the Bush administration to tell the story of the Iraq War.
Jeff Flake’s Conscience of a Conservative is a rebuttal of Cheney’s win-at-all-costs approach to conservative politics.
Related home video titles:
Viewers wanting options that aren’t Restricted might try W., a biopic of George W Bush, starring Josh Brolin. Another PG-13 story from the Bush administration is The Unknown Known, a documentary about Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush’s Secretary of Defense.
PG-13 films about the Iraq war which Cheney championed include Megan Leavey and The Lucky One. The former is a story about the bond between a soldier and her military combat dog; the latter is a romantic drama with roots in a veteran’s service in Iraq.
Viewers prepared to deal with more Restricted content have more options. Green Zone focuses on the intelligence gathering and difficulty in coordinating military activities after the invasion. Backstabbing for Beginners and Shock and Awe both cover stories set in Iraq.
One of the best movies about the war on terror that we have reviewed is Eye in the Sky, which approaches the issues of drone strikes and how governments operate when innocent lives hang in the balance.