Misery parents guide

Misery Parent Guide

When you say you write for a living, what exactly do you mean?

Overall C

Famous novelist Paul Sheldon has just decided to end the series of novels which made him famous. Driving home with the manuscript for the final book during a blizzard, his car goes off the road. Thankfully, Annie Wilkes, a nurse, finds him and takes him home until he recovers. Better yet she's a big fan...

Release date November 30, 1990

Violence D
Sexual Content A
Profanity C-
Substance Use B

Why is Misery rated R? The MPAA rated Misery R

Run Time: 107 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Victorian romances starring Misery Chastain are flying off the shelves, but author, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is growing tired of them. En route to New York from his writer’s lodge in Colorado with a new manuscript, Paul has a nasty car accident. Luckily for him, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) just so happened to be driving past, and even more fortunately, she happens to be a fan - his number one fan, in fact. But while Paul recovers in her home, he starts to realize that there may be more to Annie than he thought.

As I’ve said before, Stephen King adaptations are a real roll of the dice. You could get lucky and come out with The Shining, but more often than not, you get something like The Dark Tower. This is one of the rare gems to make it from page to screen relatively unscathed.

What makes this movie shine are the performances of its leads. Given the isolated nature of the story, if either of the stars had fallen even slightly flat, the entire movie would have collapsed on itself like a bad souffle. Thankfully, that’s not the case, and James Caan plays Paul Sheldon’s pained resistance brilliantly. But where this movie really pops is Kathy Bates’ completely unhinged and over-the-top performance as Annie Wilkes. She has this uncanny ability to be the most terrifying thing you’ve ever seen, all while being as nice and small-town charming as she can be.

Unfortunately, that means watching the movie is sort of like giving yourself a 90 minute panic attack. If you’re not excessively anxious and would like to be, then this is the movie for you. The tension creeps up and up until by the last half hour you’re looking for any excuse to go get snacks or take a bathroom break just so you can breathe. That alone makes it unsuitable for children, but when combined with the grotesque violence, this doesn’t exactly qualify as family viewing. Even with the minimal profanity, sex, and drugs, and even if you took out all the violence, this is just too tense for younger viewers.

But if you can manage the tension (or you’re just less anxious than I am to start with), this is well worth watching for the incredible acting and skilled directing. Every moment on screen is loaded with horrifying possibilities - and some of them are even worse than you’d imagined. Altogether, this probably makes for a terrible movie to watch while you’re stuck indoors…especially if you’ve been getting weird vibes from some of your housemates.

Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release November 30, 1990. Updated

Watch the trailer for Misery

Rating & Content Info

Why is Misery rated R? Misery is rated R by the MPAA

Violence: A main character is severely injured in a car accident. A main character deliberately aggravates existing injuries to cause pain. A man has both ankles broken with a sledgehammer. A personis shot and killed. An individual is struck repeatedly in the head with a typewriter. Someone attempts to gouge another individual’s eyes out. An individual is bitten. A person is killed when they are struck in the head with a heavy object.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There is one extreme profanity, one scatological term, and half a dozen mild profanities and terms of deity. A number of extreme profanities are seen briefly in writing.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are briefly shown drinking wine and champagne and smoking cigarettes.

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Misery Parents' Guide

Annie seems to think that she is an exemplary caregiver - why do you think she believes that? What about her behavior reinforces that idea? What contradicts it? What do you think motivates her?

Paul feels shackled to the “Misery” series of novels. How does he try to break out from that rut? What are some real-world analogues to Paul’s departure from a beloved series? How would you handle that situation if you were in his position?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

This is an unsettling movie but older readers who like being scared have lots to choose from.

The original Stephen King novel of the same name is superb. Other King novels with similar themes of isolation and obsession include The Shining, Pet Sematary, and The Dark Half.

Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs also features a memorable and dangerous killer- two, in fact. Both Hannibal Lecter and “Buffalo Bill” are every bit as unsettling and frightening as Annie Wilkes.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

After a car accident, a woman wakes up in a bomb shelter with a stranger, only to be told that he rescued her from a mysterious attack. 10 Cloverfield Lane tells the story of her dilemma: trust him and remain or leave the shelter.

Abducted and held captive in a small room, a young woman uses love and imagination to give her child as happy a life as she can in Room.

Rob Reiner is one of the few directors who can adapt Stephen King to the screen. See this talent in his other adaptation, Stand By Me, based on the King novella titled “The Body”. Reiner is also known for A Few Good Men and The Princess Bride.

Other solid Stephen King movies include The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, and The Shining.