Unhinged Parent Guide
The movie seems to suggest that we should pander to brittle and violent men instead of expecting people to behave like reasonable adults.
Parent Movie Review
Rachel Hunter (Caren Pistorius) is late…again. Her life hasn’t been easy, with her ailing mother, ongoing divorce, and struggles at work keeping her frantically busy, but none of that is an excuse for her son, Kyle’s (Gabriel Bateman) continued tardiness at school. In a rush to get him there on time, Rachel loses patience with a slow driver who seems to be unaware that the light has changed and gives him a few blasts on her horn. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a problem, but not this time. Rachel has unintentionally honked at Tom Cooper (Russell Crowe), a dangerous, unstable, and provably violent maniac. What follows is the worst day of her life…
I have some issues with the premise of this film. I’ve seen more than a few movies reveling in the terror of the irascible old white man, and I’m getting sick of it. Tom Cooper’s big character motive seems to be a combination of “bad divorce” and, that laziest of plot motivations, “just plain old nuts”. It seems to suggest that we should pander to these brittle and bitter old men, instead of just expecting people to behave like reasonable adults. At best, this movie is portraying the mentally ill as violent and dangerous – not something we need more of. At worst, it’s just shockingly unimaginative and using the “crazy” stigma as shorthand for their otherwise completely uninteresting villain.
I’m also just going to go ahead and recommend that you avoid watching Unhinged if you’ve ever been in a serious road-rage incident. With the way some people drive, road rage is probably familiar for some of you, and the movie is not improved when your brain is flooded by intrusive memories of people endangering your life on the roads. The violence will also be unsettling for anyone who doesn’t like gore. Seeing someone die by having scissors shoved through their eye is not one of the most pleasant moviegoing experiences you’ll ever have. The movie richly earns its Restricted rating, and other scenes of violent death and assault (along with 31 sexual expletives) clearly remove Unhinged from consideration for a movie night with grandma and the kids.
But for all that, Russell Crowe is not slouching. If you don’t bother to think about why his character does anything, it’s a solid and perturbing performance from a man who looks increasingly like John Goodman as he ages. Caren Pistorius is a little more hit and miss. In one notable scene during the climax of the picture, in a moment of absolute peril, she just looks…bored. Really bored. But at other times she does a great job as the terrified woman/concerned mother/enraged victim character.
The movie is tense, fast-paced, and unsettling – but it also isn’t much fun. I feel like the only place I would watch this is on a long flight…but even then, I have a sneaking suspicion I would turn it off and decide that taking a nap would be more fun. It’s happened before, and with films that are less aggravating than this one. Although, if I’d dropped off into a doze, I would have missed the weirdly tone-deaf cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” playing over the end credits. And where would that leave me? Apart from happier and better rested…Directed by Derrick Borte. Starring Russell Crowe, Jimmi Simpson, and Gabriel Bateman. Running time: 91 minutes. Theatrical release August 14, 2020. Updated October 27, 2020
Watch the trailer for Unhinged
Rating & Content Info
Why is Unhinged rated R? Unhinged is rated R by the MPAA for strong violent content, and language throughout.
Violence: Two people are bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer before being set on fire. A person is struck by a car. A character is smashed in the face with a coffee mug, slammed into a table, and stabbed in the neck. A person is repeatedly stabbed in the abdomen with a kitchen knife. A character is tied to a chair and set on fire. Someone is killed by a semi-truck. Several people are severely beaten. An individual is killed when someone shoves a pair of scissors through their eye.
Sexual Content: There are some non-specific references to extra-marital affairs in the context of divorce.
Profanity: There are 31 uses of the sexual expletive and 16 uses of scatological cursing, along with occasional use of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is depicted using prescription medication, and implied to be abusing it.
Page last updated October 27, 2020
Unhinged Parents' Guide
What is road rage? How can you protect yourself from violent drivers?