See How They Run Parent Guide
This murder mystery parody spends a great deal of its runtime winking at the audience.
Parent Movie Review
It’s 1953 and Agatha Christie’s whodunit The Mousetrap has just completed its 100th performance in London’s West End. As the theatrical cast celebrates with Hollywood luminaries who are planning a movie version, a real murder takes place in the theater. The body is discovered on the main stage and the police take charge, determined to find the killer.
See How They Run is less a murder mystery than a parody. It spends its runtime sending up genre tropes and winking broadly at the audience. The script follows Agatha Christie’s formula – an assortment of stereotypical people with abundant motives. There’s an adulterous producer who’s being blackmailed; a lecherous director; a self-absorbed writer; a vain actor; and a world-weary, alcoholic police inspector. A junior police constable, played by Saoirse Ronan, is more or less the film’s protagonist and she plunges ahead, jumping to wild conclusions, in the search for suspects.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about See How They Run. There’s nothing wrong with the formula, which has been the basis for scores of successful novels and movies. The biggest problem here is that the film is a bit too self-conscious of its own cleverness. The Agatha Christie references are clever, the allusions to other classic films are clever, the dialogue is a bit too clever. Sometimes it feels more like an Easter egg hunt than a film, which I don’t see as a plus. It’s possible that I’m overthinking this: I spent my teen years reading every single book written by Agatha Christie, but my kids tell me that most moviegoers won’t notice the Christie references scattered through the film. This is probably true. It is certainly possible that less nerdy viewers will be able to sit back and enjoy the film’s mild goofiness as they try to puzzle out the plot, which maintains its tension and comic irony right up to the end.
What really sells the film isn’t the overly arch script but its incredibly talented cast. Saoirse Ronan as the eager rookie keeps the story moving forward with earnest good intentions. Adrien Brody is suitably slimy as the caddish Hollywood director, and Sam Rockwell is convincing as the defeated police officer. The only off-note here comes from the normally stellar David Oyelowo. He seems overly mannered in his role as a neurotic screenwriter, which I attribute to the script and weak direction.
As far as negative content goes, See How They Run fares better than most murder mysteries. Given the subject, there is obviously blood and violence, but gore is kept to a minimum. The violence is weirdly tongue-in-cheek at times: there’s a bizarre casualness in the poisoning scene and an equivalent lack of concern for a fire started by a Molotov cocktail. Whether or not you see that as demonstrating the script’s lighthearted attitude to its story or a callous disregard for suffering is a matter of perspective. Sexual content is minimal, with references to adultery, and profanity is comparatively light, aside from a couple of scatological curses (but these are enough to lower the film’s grade). The only other issue of concern is alcohol consumption. Alcohol is consumed throughout the film and the police inspector has a serious alcohol abuse issue, which his constable helps him cover up.
As for its target audience, this film is clearly aimed at murder mystery aficionados. You don’t have to be an Agatha Christie fan; you don’t have to have read or watched The Mousetrap. All you need is a sense of humor and a desire to figure out whodunit. If you’re particularly thrifty, you might want to wait until the film streams online in a few months; if not, you can head off to the theater and See How They Run.Directed by Tom George. Starring Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release September 16, 2022. Updated September 16, 2022
Watch the trailer for See How They Run
See How They Run
Rating & Content Info
Why is See How They Run rated PG-13? See How They Run is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some violence/bloody images and a sexual reference.
Violence: Characters are attacked and murdered. They are strangled, bludgeoned, poisoned, and struck with heavy objects. Bloody injuries are seen. Police mention that a dead man’s tongue has been removed. A person makes a Molotov cocktail, starting a fire in a house. Guns are fired and people are injured, with visible bloody wounds. There are scenes of men fighting with pushing and shoving. A fake strangulation is portrayed in a theatrical performance. In a nightmare, a character sees a man’s back being cut open.
Sexual Content: Adultery is frequently mentioned. There are a few scenes of kissing. There is coded mention of sexual harassment or assault, described as “difficulties”. There is a vague suggestion of a gay relationship. A man is briefly seen in his underwear on a couple of occasions.
Profanity: There are approximately a dozen profanities, with the script featuring a couple of scatological curses, plus terms of deity, mild profanities, and an anatomical term.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People drink alcohol frequently throughout the movie and are often shown intoxicated. A main character drives after drinking.
Page last updated September 16, 2022
See How They Run Parents' Guide
This movie was inspired by Agatha Christie’s enduringly popular play, The Mousetrap. To learn more about the real people who are shown in this movie, you can read these links:
The play’s website can be found here.
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The story that inspired it all can be found in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and Other Plays.
If you enjoyed this film, there are some Agatha Christie novels that follow similar themes. The Sittaford Mystery is set in a country house, isolated by a heavy snowfall. Actors and actresses are suspects in Lord Edgware Dies. A film star is a main character in The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side. Dentist Norman Gale (whose nameplate is seen in this film) is a character in Death in the Clouds. Another dentist is a character in One Two, Buckle My Shoe.
If you want a lighthearted approach to crime fiction, you can try Agatha Christie’s series featuring Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. This sleuthing couple solve mysteries together in Partners in Crime, The Secret Adversary, and N or M? Another young adventurer gets embroiled in intrigue in The Man in the Brown Suit.
Related home video titles:
The film this most closely resembles is Clue. Released in 1985, this murder mystery parody hits comic gold with a cast that includes Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd.