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The Big Uneasy | 2011 | NR | - 5.4.5

Actor Harry Shearer directs an introspective look at the 2005 devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Featuring the stories of two leaders (of a scientific investigation team and a US Army Corps of Engineers whistleblower) it tries to tell the real story behind the reasons New Orleans flooded and was almost destroyed. Also with John Goodman and featuring narration by Brad Pitt. [1:38]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - We briefly see four women lifting their shirts and the bare breasts of three of the women are visible.
 We see men wearing tights and short shorts. A man is seen wearing a dress with exaggerated fake breasts.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 4 - Throughout the movie we see the wreckage left by a storm: houses destroyed, cars flipped on their backs, mud and muddy water is seen covering homes, and there are missing roofs and many empty foundations, as a person explains that a storm had literally carried houses off their foundation for six blocks past a broken levy. Levies are seen broken and crumbled, including seeing wreckage of metal support beams lying on the ground and footage of a levy swinging open like a door. We see the insides of homes destroyed, water damage and mud is seen on the ground and walls, and mold is seen growing on the ceiling of one of the homes.
 We see footage of water pouring through a street and engulfing a home as a man narrates that a house has been flooded. We watch footage recorded by a man as he narrates: we see water swirling through a street as he says that a house is about to collapse and that another house, "isn't going to be around much longer." We see television clips and hear reporters discussing how a massive storm had caused devastation of a city, and we see reporters standing in front of destroyed buildings and flooded homes. We see newspaper headlines explaining that a disaster was destroying a city, and newspaper headlines read that water is flooding a city; we see a photograph of a shopping center underwater.
 As we see an animation of water pouring over a topographical map, a man explains that water had surged over a flood wall in one area and then smashed a flood wall in another, pointing out that a specific area had flooded so rapidly (within 20 minutes) that it had lead to many deaths. We see a computer generated animation where a wave of water hits a house; a man explains that the water had destroyed homes and lifted houses off their foundation as far as six blocks from a levy break.
 A scientist remarks that a lot of people died that did not have to during a storm. During an interview a man briefly mentions the Challenger explosion in reference to deadly mistakes that could have been prevented, but does not go into detail. A man briefly mentions that 9/11 victims and their families had been awarded money but does not go into detail about 9/11. During an interview, a man says he had talked with multiple people that had contemplated suicide following a natural disaster, including a man that had put a gun to his head but did not shoot. A woman explains that stress had caused her health to "go in the bucket" including gaining weight and being unable to function normally without panicking. We see a memo explaining that the stress of an event had altered a man's vocal chords. A man says that it was as though people were being "beaten to death" during meetings. A man says that an organization had not taken into account the value of human life when doing cost analysis. During an interview a man says, "heads should roll." A man jokingly says that people had reacted as though infantry had been rolled into a city with guns drawn. During an interview a man says he had seen a storm snap trees like they were matchsticks. A man explains that he had lived through Hurricane Betsy, which had destroyed 10% of the city of New Orleans and flooding was so bad he had to swim back to his house, but most of his possessions, including his wedding photos, where ruined. A man says during an interview that he had been alerted that a nursing home was beginning to flood at the rate of a half foot every hour, which is when he knew things were not going well. During an interview, a man says that the State Attorney General was going to declare an area a crime scene in order to allow people to investigate without being stopped by a government body; the man then explains that they had to be escorted by armed guards and we see two men holding rifles leading a man to a house. During an interview a man explains that without the power of the Mississippi from New Orleans that cities as far away as Detroit and the surrounding 1000 miles would freeze. A woman explains that pumps being created were not correctly made to withstand water; we see pumps and water pipes bursting and see photographs of smashed pipes.


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LANGUAGE 5 - 2 F-words seen written on a sign, 1 scatological term, 6 anatomical terms (2 are seen written on a sign and 3 are mild), 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (bloated, inefficient, worthless, public enemy, recalcitrant, defiant, dysfunctional, enemy of the state), exclamations (shut up, like a mother).


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SUBSTANCE USE - We briefly see people drinking what is presumably alcohol from cups while walking down the street in a parade, and we see people holding signs advertising beer for sale.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Betsy, Hurricane Andrew, Mardi Gras, New Orleans 9th ward, storm serge model, LSU, LSU Hurricane Center, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, former FEMA chief Michael Brown, Senator David Vitter, President George W. Bush, blame, lack of response to New Orleans, poverty epidemic, dishonesty, Task Force HOPE, benefit to cost ratio, cypress swamps, wetlands, wetland disappearance, Challenger explosion, MR-GO and delta re-routing, Holland/Dutch canal systems, whistleblowers, failing upwards, liability, 9/11, Environmental and Public Works Committee hearings, accountability.

MESSAGE - An investigation into the Katrina disaster needs to be undertaken.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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