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Hillbilly Elegy | 2020 | R | – 3.5.8

content-ratingsWhy is “Hillbilly Elegy” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “language throughout, drug content and some violence.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes a kissing scene, a few suggestive remarks and cleavage revealing outfits, a husband hits his wife, a wife sets her husband on fire, a few deaths from illness, a near drowning, a fistfight ending in a bloody nose, many arguments, an overdose ending with a hospital stay, a few scenes of drug use and discussions of addiction and alcoholism, and nearly 40 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


Based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, about growing up in an Appalachian family and graduating from Yale while grappling with his mother’s (Amy Adams) drug addiction, inability to form stable relationships, dysfunctional entanglements, abrupt personality shifts, cruelty and frequent violent outbreaks. Some stability is provided by his grandmother (Glenn Close), who urges him to do well in school and protects him from domestic abuse. Also with Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Gabriel Basso, Sunny Mabrey, Bo Hopkins and Owen Asztalos. Directed by Ron Howard. [Running Time: 1:56]

Hillbilly Elegy SEX/NUDITY 3

 – A young woman and a young man kiss, and the young woman jumps into his arms and wraps her legs around his waist.
 A man accuses a woman to her adult son of performing sex acts on random men for drugs. A teen boy makes a sexually suggestive remark to another teen boy about his mother (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A woman says, “I was hot.” A woman says a book “sounds hot.” A woman talks about her mother having been pregnant at the age of 13. A teen boy talks about a teen girl “puking,” and he says that she is pregnant. A teen boy talks about his mother having several failed relationships with men.
 A young woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage in several scenes. A woman wears a short robe as she screams in the middle of a street and when she is held on the ground by medical attendants, the robe separates to reveal her bare legs and underwear.


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Hillbilly Elegy VIOLENCE/GORE 5

 – A husband rages at his wife and she accuses him of being drunk and threatens him after he hits her in the face; we see her set him on fire later when he has passed out on the sofa (we see his shirt on fire and a young girl throws a blanket on him to put the flames out). Several older teen boys hold a teen boy underwater in a pond as he struggles to get free, and gasps for breath when they let him surface. A teen boy charges toward another teen after he makes a crude remark about the first boy’s mother; the second boy punches him in the nose and two other boys hold him in the dirt (we see him with a bloody nose later) until two men come and push the attackers away and one man punches a teen boy in the stomach (he falls gasping). A man yells at a woman, throws her possessions from a balcony to the ground and calls her names; the woman’s adult son charges up the stairs of the apartment building, pounds on the man’s door and tries to break it open (we see the man inside holding a knife) until a woman in the hallway calls for him to stop (she has two young children with her).
 A woman speeds on a two-lane road in her car with her teen son and says, “I could crash and kill us both”; the boy becomes frightened, climbs into the backseat of the car, the woman swerves off the road and slaps the boy several times in the head and the face after he yells at her; the boy then runs out of the car toward a house where he tells a woman, “My mom is trying to kill me,” and he calls his grandmother and says, “Mom’s losing it.” A woman pounds on the door of a house where her son is taking refuge from her and she breaks open the screen and forces her way in, pulling her son out of the house, as another woman inside the house calls the police; we see the woman later in handcuffs and placed in a police car. A woman with a bloody wound on her wrist runs into a street screaming and police and an ambulance arrive while people try to calm her. Several teen boys with baseball bats break into a store warehouse and smash up the contents; an alarm sounds and they run and speed away in a car, and nearly crash into an oncoming motorcycle before swerving off the road and crashing over an embankment (no injuries are shown). A woman yells at her teenage grandson after he throws a new calculator out of the car window; she squeals around a corner and tells him to get out and get the calculator. A man returns to a hotel room where he has left his mother and finds her locked in the bathroom attempting to inject herself with heroin; the man breaks the door open and takes the syringe away from her, breaks it and throws it in the toilet, as she scrambles to recover it. People gather around a woman in a hospital bed as she dies.
 A woman pounds on the window of a house trying to get the attention of a man inside; she breaks the window open and a teen boy climbs through to unlock the door and she finds the man dead in his chair (we see him sitting motionless) and we see people gathered and grieving at a funeral later. A teen boy finds his grandmother collapsed on the floor gasping and he calls for help; we see her in the hospital and understand that she has pneumonia and the boy asks if she is going to die. A man gets a call and is told that his mother is in the hospital after overdosing. A boy finds an injured turtle on a road (we see a gash in its shell and some blood); another boy tells him to pull the shell off, or see how far he can throw it (the first boy places the turtle under some brush for safety).
 A woman puts on roller skates and skates through hospital hallways causing hospital staff to be alarmed and one man calls for security (we hear that she lost her job as a nurse and understand that she was under the influence of a drug she had taken earlier). A boy runs after a puppy in his house and bumps his head on a table; his mother yells at him and calls him clumsy. A woman confronts two teenagers and calls them names, makes a stereotype joke about Polish people when she finds out one boy is Polish, and tells them to leave her property and never come back. A boy dances in a store and bumps into a display of cards that spill onto the floor; the shop owner yells for him to pick the cards up and then tells him and his mother to leave; they leave and the woman reveals that she has stolen some cards for the boy. A boy tries to steal an expensive calculator from a store; he is caught and turns it over to the storeowner. A woman tells her teenage son that she got married (to someone that he doesn’t know) and that they are going to move in with him; the boy becomes angry and yells at his mother and his grandmother. A woman tells her teenage son that they are going to move into a man’s house and the boy seems unhappy. We hear a loud gunshot on a TV movie. A woman becomes upset, walks out of a rehab facility, and refuses to be admitted after an overdose.
 A woman talks about her mother growing up and says, “It was a war in that house.” A woman makes an obscene hand gesture toward her adult daughter and says, “Perch and swivel.” A man teases a woman about being caught in a library with food and she panics. A young man seems out of his element when he is offered assorted wines and is seated at a table with multiple forks and spoons. A man at a dinner refers to people from Kentucky as “rednecks” and a young man takes offense.
 People talk about the competitive nature of legal positions. People talk about dreaming of “something better.”
 A woman asks her teen son to give her a urine sample that she can use as her own; the boy becomes upset, yells at her and his grandmother, and leaves the house (we later see him filling the cup and the urine flow and the cup filling up). A teen boy talks about a teen girl “puking.” A puppy runs through a house and urinates on a carpet as a woman yells for someone to catch it and screams at the dog. A teen girl blows the liquid egg out of a hole in an eggshell and into a bowl.


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Hillbilly Elegy LANGUAGE 8

 – About 37 F-words and its derivatives, 1 obscene hand gesture, 2 sexual references, 40 scatological terms, 28 anatomical terms, 36 mild obscenities, name-calling (bored, old man, losers, freak, crippled, junkie whore, feather-brained, Prince Charming, fake, selfish, lazy, unbelievable, crazies, lame-brained, deadbeats, crazy old witch, lard [anatomical term deleted], bastards, idiot, rat fart, dumb boy, dirt bag, ridiculous, rednecks, stupid, little fat [anatomical term deleted]), exclamations (yes, hey, shut-up), 13 religious profanities (GD), 24 religious exclamations (e.g. Christ, God, Amen, Father God, Oh My God, Baby Jesus, Holy Terror, I’ll By God Do It). | profanity glossary |


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Hillbilly Elegy SUBSTANCE USE

 – A man finds his mother trying to inject herself with heroin (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details), a woman takes a prescription pill, a woman takes two pills from a patient’s medical table and swallows them (she appears under the influence later), teen boys inhale from what looks like aerosol spray paint cans, a man grows marijuana in his a basement and his teenage son is shown smoking some in a few scenes, a teen boy smokes marijuana from bong, a teen boy mentions “whippets,” and a man gets a call and is told that his mother is in the hospital after overdosing. People drink wine at a dinner, teen boys drink beer from bottles, and we hear that a man had a drinking problem. A woman smokes in every scene she is in, a woman smokes in many scenes, and a man smokes in many scenes.


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Hillbilly Elegy DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Rural life, the Appalachian region and ethnic norms, extended family, personality disorders, the American Dream, “hillbilly” culture and stereotypes, domestic abuse, heroin addiction, alcoholism, chances, taking responsibility, injustice, faith, guilt, abuse, bankruptcy, fitting in, disrespect, hope, forgiveness.

Hillbilly Elegy MESSAGE

 – You have to decide whether you want to be somebody or not; basically, we choose who we become.

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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