Best Sellers parents guide

Best Sellers Parent Guide

Despite a stellar cast, something is still missing in this film.

Overall C

In Theaters: Michael Caine stars as a cranky, aging writer who agrees to go on one final book tour to save the publishing company that has released his books.

Release date September 17, 2021

Violence A
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Best Sellers rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Best Sellers Not Rated

Run Time: 100 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) is in trouble. The publishing house she took over from her father is in disarray, with no successful books on shelves and nothing in the pipeline. As competitors circle with offers of buyouts, Lucy is running out of options to save her father’s legacy. So when she finds an old contract with the infamously uncooperative and reclusive Harris Shaw (Michael Caine), she leaps on the opportunity – whatever the cost. Technically, Shaw’s old contract with Stanbridge Publishing means he owes them another book, and he has just finished a manuscript – which, according to the contract, Lucy is not allowed to edit. Even with a book in hand, getting Shaw to cooperate on a publicity tour is going to be far harder than anything Lucy has tried to do before.

Unfortunately, I think the best part of this film is the cast. Aubrey Plaza, Michael Caine, and Ellen Wong are clearly putting in some serious work to try and keep this film afloat. Caine, of course, is no stranger to playing gruff old geezers, but the older he gets, the better he is at pulling it off. And Plaza’s manic energy is a good balance to Caine’s stubbornness, with Ellen Wong rounding off the edges with some nervous enthusiasm.

This film is not yet rated, but it’s definitely geared towards an adult audience. The primary concern for parents here will be with the surfeit of profanity, primarily on the part of Michael Caine’s character. Over the course of the film he develops a catchphrase synonymous with bovine excrement, and it is delivered by excited fans and the author himself repeatedly throughout the film – and that accounts for only a portion of the hundred-plus profanities in the movie. Of course, being a depressed writer, he’s also a raging alcoholic, although that is shown to have some serious consequences.

This is not an easy review to write. Best Sellers has a great deal of potential, both in the cast and the writing, but something just feels…off. The worst part is, I’m not sure what went wrong – and I’m a movie critic, which makes me feel like I’m definitely missing something. But when the credits started rolling, the movie was still lacking some of the heart it needed to get off the ground. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still plenty entertaining, but I kept getting the nagging sensation that the filmmakers could have done something differently that would have made the whole thing pop. But what do I know about writing, anyway? I’m not even an alcoholic.

Directed by Lina Roessler. Starring Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release September 17, 2021. Updated

Best Sellers
Rating & Content Info

Why is Best Sellers rated Not Rated? Best Sellers is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: A person is injured after starting a fire.
Sexual Content: There are several crude sexual references. A couple are shown partially undressing and kissing passionately. A woman is seen from the shoulders up in the bath. There is a scene involving public urination.
Profanity:  There are 40 extreme profanities, 63 scatological profanities, and occasional uses of mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.

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Best Sellers Parents' Guide

Why does Harris act the way he does? What is he trying to cope with? How does Lucy help him? Are there any real-world authors with similar behaviors?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Although fundamentally different in subject matter, this movie shares some structural elements with Green Book. If you’re into completely unmanageable authors, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows the outrageous drug-fueled exploits of Gonzo journalist and maniac Hunter S. Thompson. He is played by Bill Murray in Where the Buffalo Roam. The Last Station, about Leo Tolstoy, and Shadowlands, about C.S. Lewis are other options for authorial biopics with less deranged behavior. Misery centers on an author with a turbulent relationship with his fans – one in particular. Although not about writing, The Burnt Orange Heresy focuses on a reclusive painter with odd habits.