Run This Town parents guide

Run This Town Parent Guide

The further you are from Toronto, the less likely you are to be interested in this look at the Rob Ford scandal.

Overall C-

Rob Ford's time as mayor of Toronto was plagued by scandal and rumor - here is the behind the scenes story of how it all came about.

Release date March 6, 2020

Violence A
Sexual Content C-
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is Run This Town rated R? The MPAA rated Run This Town R for language and sexual references.

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Following his graduation from Western University with a degree in journalism, Bram Shriver (Ben Platt) finds a job at a small paper and begins working at the bottom of the totem pole. Writing “Top Ten” lists about the city of Toronto is wearing him down, and he aspires to more significant assignments. Kamal Arafa (Mena Massoud), meanwhile, has been working as a Special Assistant to the Mayor, and begins to think Rob Ford (Damien Lewis), Toronto’s mayor, is increasingly unstable. As things spiral further out of control, Ashley Pollock (Nina Dobrev) realizes that her job in the Mayor’s Office may not be worth the pay…

This is a big, sprawling story, and it struggles to hold on to itself. It bounces between different characters and narrative arcs and doesn’t always finish the story lines it begins. This is a problem because Run This Town assumes a fairly high level of viewer familiarity with the numerous scandals of Rob Ford’s mayoral tenure. Given that most of these happened around seven years ago and have been swamped by the tsunami of political scandals that have occurred worldwide in the intervening period, I found it difficult to keep up at times. I doubt viewers outside of Canada, or particularly Ontario, will be able to keep track of every plot element in the film.

In addition to struggling as a piece of mass market entertainment, Run This Town, isn’t entirely suited as an educational option either. Its extensive use of profanity and sexual language are not appropriate for children or teens, and the confused presentation of the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to quick comprehension of the events being depicted. Snappy, fast paced dialogue makes the film more watchable, but I’m not sure it outweighs the unsettling sight of Damien Lewis as Rob Ford in a truly bizarre fat suit. Even then, there’s an Aaron-Sorkin-lite feel to the dialogue, but it isn’t always successful. Instead of smart people talking quickly, scenes often display what feels like insecure people rambling to try and sound smarter, which isn’t nearly as entertaining to watch. All the speed, half the flavor.

I’m unsure of the broad market appeal of this movie. For political addicts in Toronto, this will scratch a few itches as they reminisce over Rob Ford’s lunatic turn in City Hall, but the further you get from Nathan Phillips Square, the more interest will wane. The rest of us will have to find our entertainment in whatever scandals pop up on the ten o’clock news.

Directed by Ricky Tollman. Starring Ben Platt, Nina Dobrev, and Mena Massoud. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release March 6, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Run This Town

Run This Town
Rating & Content Info

Why is Run This Town rated R? Run This Town is rated R by the MPAA for language and sexual references.

Violence: None.
Sexual Content: There are frequent crude references to male and female anatomy, and a female individual is sexually harassed.
Profanity: There are 19 uses of extreme profanities, as well as 5 scatological terms. There is frequent use of terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are frequently shown drinking or intoxicated, usually in a social context. There are references to and discussions of people doing crack. An individual is shown casually taking amphetamines from a prescription bottle.

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Run This Town Parents' Guide

How can politicians who break the law and shred social norms manage to get elected to office? Where did Rob Ford get his electoral support? Why did people vote for him? Do you see the same patterns in other elections?

The Conversation: Who votes for a mayor like Rob Ford?

The Globe and Mail: This is why I’m voting for Rob Ford Ford Nation: How Populism Took Hold in Toronto


Loved this movie? Try these books…

Rob Ford’s mayoral tenure and his brother Doug’s election as Ontario’s premier have spawned a number of literary treatments.

Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story retells the turbulent Ford administration from the perspective of a reporter who was first to report on the infamous cocaine video.

Another reporter covers the Ford phenomenon in The Only Average Guy. John Filion goes beyond Ford’s life story to examine the ability to outrageous, flawed candidates to harness the votes of angry constituents.

Rob Ford’s Chief of Staff, Mark Towhey, tells the story from the inside in his book, Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable: How I Tried to Help the World’s Most Notorious Mayor.

Rob and Doug Ford tell their own stories – and write a manifesto for their base – in Ford Nation

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Run This Town movie is March 10, 2020. Here are some details…

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