Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin Parent Guide
Violent girl power messages and an overdose of profanity and sexual content...
Parent Movie Review
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) isn’t having a good week. She broke up with her boyfriend (a notorious crime lord), blew up a chemical factory, and learned that the only reason half of Gotham City wasn’t trying to kill her was the aforementioned boyfriend. With him out of the picture, Harley is on the run from both criminals and law enforcement officers. To save her skin, she strikes a deal with one of the people trying to kill her, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), who agrees not to kill her if she recovers a diamond which was recently stolen from him. The thief? A teenage girl named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Unwilling to see the younger girl harmed, Harley will have to team up with some of the other femme fatales stalking Gotham’s streets.
If you boil this plot right down, it sounds a lot like Deadpool 2 - reluctant anti-hero protects tough street kid against her better judgement, is drawn into dangerous situation, and learns something about the value of friendship and teamwork. I’m not faulting Birds of Prey for this, since basically all comic book adaptations sound alike when broken into their constituent components. I’m just pointing out that this movie is going for a similar angle. Is it successful?
Like Deadpool, Birds of Prey overdoses on profanity, violence, and sexual content. In this case, however, the sexual content is less focused on crude jokes (though those are still present) and more on dangerous male characters acting rape-y. And while Deadpool found some humor in excessive violence, it’s hard to get a laugh out of a man’s face being cut off in front of his family. Viewers with photosensitivity or epilepsy should also be aware of a very intense strobe scene around the middle of the film.
The answer is - not really. While Margot Robbie is wonderful, swinging insanely between frighteningly deranged and delightfully creepy (she’s mastered this very deliberate way of blinking, which is highly unsettling), it isn’t quite enough. The movie is oddly unbalanced, with a first act that gets shown twice from different perspectives, which makes for an interesting narrative device and a brutal case of second-act drag. Also slowing the film is Harley’s overly prevalent narration, which was so incessant I began tuning it out. When it comes to narration, less is more.
All that said, there is some chaotic fun to be had for adult viewers who aren’t offended by the content issues, and there are some solid “girl power” messages going on. Better yet, the cast is clearly having fun throughout. It could be that the movie is far funnier than I’m giving it credit for, and the jokes just missed me. I’m sure there are people who would enjoy this movie more than I did, and they’ll be more than a little upset with me for missing the high spots. But Birds of Prey just didn’t feel fantabulous to me.Directed by Cathy Yan. Starring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth-Winstead, and Ewan McGregor. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release February 7, 2020. Updated February 6, 2020
Watch the trailer for Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin
Rating & Content Info
Why is Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin rated R? Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin is rated R by the MPAA for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.
Violence: People are beaten (both with fists and an assortment of other objects), hit by cars, shot, stabbed, and set on fire. An individual’s face is cut off in front of their family. People are shot through the throat with arrows. An entire family, including children, is massacred by gangsters.
Sexual Content: An animated segment shows cartoon insemination. Several people are sexually harassed. One individual pressures another to pay for something with sexual favours. A severely intoxicated woman is nearly abducted and assaulted. A visibly distressed woman is forced to dance and strip on a table in a crowded bar. The wallpaper in one set is patterned with crudely drawn nude women.
Profanity: There are approximately 140 uses of coarse and profane language, including at least 80 sexual expletives and 23 scatological terms. There are also dozens of uses of moderate profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: The protagonist is shown binge drinking several times, and other characters are shown drinking. There are infrequent scenes of people smoking. The main character is shown taking cocaine.
Page last updated February 6, 2020
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quin Parents' Guide
In this film, everyone uses violence to solve their problems. Why? Can you think of more effective ways that the characters in this film could have resolved their differences? Do you think the female characters are entitled to use violence in self defense or to gain revenge?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The Harlequin character comes from the Italian Commedia dell’arte. You can learn more about it here:
Italy Mask: Commedia Dell’Arte Characters
Agatha Christie created her own Harley Quin character, a mysterious character who appears at difficult times to give a vital insight into the crime. He’s featured in The Mysterious Mr. Quin.
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