Malcolm & Marie Parent Guide
This film is Oscar bait but has too much negative content for wide appeal.
Parent Movie Review
After the premiere of his new film, Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) settle down for some mac-and-cheese and a celebration – but things don’t go as planned. Long-standing issues in their relationship (which have been bubbling under the surface) boil over, resulting in one nasty fight after another. The only question for viewers is whether the relationship will survive long enough for the first critic’s reviews to come in for Malcolm’s movie… and that doesn’t look promising.
In the film’s first ten minutes, Marie opines that “Nothing productive is going to be said tonight”. I was immediately concerned that she was going to be right, and, sadly, she was prophetic. If you like watching couples fight, I’m concerned about your mental health, but this movie is for you. The two spend the entire runtime either making out or verbally abusing one another. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have dumped their partner within the first half hour of this kind of toxicity, but this manages to run on for nearly two hours.
That said, Malcolm & Marie clearly ticks a lot of “Oscar Bait” boxes. Slow, melodramatic character studies about melodramatic people working in the film industry tend to crop up around awards season. Hollywood loves nothing more than a movie about Hollywood. And while this is only really peripherally about the industry, that’s usually enough for the awards for the same reason that so many pieces of so-called modern “literature” are about bummed out university professors who start having sex with their students. The Academy Awards are an industry patting itself on a back for a job well done, and they like telling themselves how important they are.
Malcolm & Marie is so riddled with profanity that I don’t know anybody to whom I can recommend the film. The way I organize my notes leaves me room for 225 sexual expletives. I have only run out of space on one other movie (The Outpost, for those curious) until now. There are a whopping 297 f-bombs in this film. I think I spent more time making tally marks than I did looking at the screen. Add in sexual content and heavy drinking, and Malcolm & Marie is a pretty poor choice for date night.
The content issues are particularly unfortunate because there are some interesting, compelling, and worthwhile conversations within the movie about identity, self-image, and relationships. There are even some interesting questions about film criticism and intentionality, and genuinely impressive and involved performances from the leads. None of which matters, because I don’t think that anybody who cares about content enough to be reading this review will want to wade through that much swearing for a slow-burn relationship drama.Directed by Sam Levinson. Starring John David Washington, Zendaya. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release February 5, 2021. Updated February 5, 2021
Malcolm & Marie
Rating & Content Info
Why is Malcolm & Marie rated R? Malcolm & Marie is rated R by the MPAA for pervasive language and sexual content
Violence: There are references to suicide. An individual is threatened with a knife. There are repeated instances of verbal abuse.
Sexual Content: There is frequent coarse sexual language. A couple are shown kissing passionately on several occasions. A character is shown biting another character’s posterior. A character is briefly shown undressing and seen from the shoulders up in the bath, and is later seen in revealing sleepwear.
Profanity: There are 297 extreme profanities, 85 scatological curses, and frequent use of mild profanities and terms of deity. There are also several racial slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are frequently seen drinking and smoking tobacco. There are references to drug abuse and addiction, although these are not shown.
Page last updated February 5, 2021
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If you want a more palatable take on an unstable Hollywood relationship, good news! La La Land gives you all the melodrama with considerably less profanity and abuse – and they even manage to work in some musical numbers. A slightly more intense version can be found in A Star is Born – any of the three remakes of that film. If you like the “pillbox” style shoot, options include 12 Angry Men and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.