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"SET IT OFF"
(1996) (Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Moderate Heavy Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy Minor Moderate Heavy Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Mild Mild Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Action/Drama: Four women decide to become bank robbers to make quick money and improve their lives.
PLOT:
Stony (JADA PINKETT), Cleo (QUEEN LATIFAH), Frankie (VIVICA A. FOX) and Tisean (KIMBERLY ELISE) are all good friends who have jobs they hate. Frankie's just lost hers at a bank after a robbery and the other three are cleaning ladies for Luther, a sexist, disrespectful boss. Stony's little brother, Stevie, has been killed and Tisean's child has been taken away from her by the state and all of them feel cheated by "the system." They all need money and decide that they could rob banks and get away with it since Frankie is familiar with the inner workings of those financial institutions. So they begin and are successful at first, but soon Detective Strode (JOHN C. McKINNLEY) is on the case and moves closer and closer to catching them. To complicate things, Stony gets involved with Keith Winston (BLAIR UNDERWOOD), an investor and soon wants out of their wild lifestyle. But the other women think they need one big, last score and so they set off for the bank and an encounter with Strode and the other police.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?,
Those who like actions films will be drawn to this one, as will young African American women as the four stars will be draws for that audience.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong graphic violence, pervasive language, some sex and drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
None of the cast members (JADA PINKETT, QUEEN LATIFAH, VIVICA A. FOX or KIMBERLY ELISE) are good role models as they use threats and violence to rob banks and all four smoke marijuana.
CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
This is a fairly decent action film with some well staged and fresh looking bank robbery scenes that are shot in such a way as to keep you interested, if not necessarily on the edge of your seat. It is also an incredibly hard film to sit through without groaning at the problems that plague the plot. If you had just been fired from your job at a bank because the owners and the police suspected you were involved, would you then go and start robbing banks? And even if you did, wouldn't the police consider you a prime suspect, especially when you're female and there aren't that many bank robberies committed by females. We'd think so, but the police obviously don't and it takes them a long time to figure it out. And one of the characters grieves for oh, a scene and a half over her last family member, her brother, who is mistakenly killed by the police. Or how about when a car is hit with so many bullets that it looks like Swiss cheese, yet the driver gets out unscathed, only to be shot dead by the police? Sure, we're nitpicking here, but c'mon, all of those things are easy to fix, yet the film makers are sloppy with those details. If you like your action films dumb and stupid, yet still intriguing, you'll probably like this film. Otherwise, you'd probably be better off passing on this one. We give it a 5 out of 10.
OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
There are all kinds of bad things in this film. The four women rob banks and are successful at it, and their actions are somewhat glorified. Even though three out of the four women don't make it by the movie's end, one of them does and those odds, one in 25, are quite good (compared to, say, the lottery). The women threaten and shoot people with guns and all four smoke marijuana. Profanity is extreme (with more than 100 "f" words) and there are three sex scenes (one of them a lesbian scene) with some nudity and sexual movement. The four African American women might be looked upon by teenage and younger African American girls as role models, and this is bad, since they certainly aren't good role models. We suggest you read all category listings if your children want to see this one.


ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People are drinking and smoking at a retro 70's party.
  • People are seen drinking beer outside on the street.
  • Cleo has a bottle of whiskey from which she is drinking out in public.
  • The four women smoke pot and drink whiskey while sitting on a roof top contemplating their pending bank robbery. Stony and Tisean seem to be "high."
  • Stevie is given a bottle of champagne.
  • The women drink while counting their money.
  • Marion Barry, Washington, D.C.'s mayor is mentioned and Stony asks, "Didn't he get popped for basing up? (Cocaine use)" Keith says yeah, but "nobody's perfect."
  • Keith and Stony have wine at his place.
  • Cleo's girlfriend drinks whiskey from the bottle as she polishes a car.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • During a bank robbery, a woman is shot in the head and her blood splatters onto Frankie. Later her bloody body is seen and others who are shot are also bloody.
  • Stevie is rather bloody after the police mistakenly shoot and kill him, and his and other bodies are later seen lying on the road.
  • Many gunshot victims have blood squirt from their bodies and/or are bloody afterwards, including Frankie.
  • Tisean is very bloody after having been shot during a bank robbery.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The four women rob banks to try to improve their lives.
  • Luther isn't respectful to his workers (the other three women). Luther always calls Cleo "gentleman" since he knows she's a lesbian.
  • Stony needs money to help put her brother through college. She meets a car salesman and asks for a job and/or up-front money. He wants to know what she'll do for him to make it worth his while to help her out. At first she balks at this request, but later is seen lying underneath the man as he has sex with her.
  • Cleo looks at a client's family photo and remarks that "White people have ugly babies."
  • Stony slaps her brother, Stevie, when he tells her he didn't get accepted into college (he had lied to her, thus causing her to go and sleep with a man to get money to put him through school).
  • Cleo talks to a man about having stolen cars for him in the past. Later, she breaks into and steals several cars to be used in their robbery getaways. In one scene, she car jacks a man with her two guns.
  • Cleo gets a bad attitude after getting their "quick cash" and doesn't go back to her former job.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Many scenes listed under "Violence," (including all of the bank robberies) will be tense and/or suspenseful for many viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Guns are used to threaten, injure or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Stevie goes to visit Lorenzo, one of the bank robbers, and has a gun aimed at him by Lorenzo until he recognizes Stevie.
  • The women fire guns at a makeshift, and illegal, firing range as they test out weapons they'll use in their robberies.
  • Cleo accidentally fires her gun through the ceiling as the women celebrate their first robbery.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • The women rob banks, drink, and smoke pot.
  • Cleo gives a man "the finger."
  • They rob their first bank and happy go lucky music plays along with them (sending a message that it's okay -- and fun-- to rob banks). They point their guns at the tellers and customers and steal the money.
  • Marion Barry, Washington, D.C.'s mayor is mentioned and Stony asks, "Didn't he get popped for basing up? (Cocaine use)" Keith says yeah, but "nobody's perfect."
  • Cleo is seen playing with an aerosol can and a lighter and momentarily turns it into a blowtorch.
  • Phrases: "Bitch," "Bitchin," "Nigger," "Shut up," and "Hood rats."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A quiet scene suddenly cuts to a scene where the women are at a makeshift firing range. The sudden sounds will make viewers jump.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Several bank robbery sequences are accompanied by moderately tense music.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • There are many rap songs in the background that are either incoherent or played behind dialogue and thus can't be understood. Thus, there may be more objectionable items than are mentioned here.
  • There is extreme profanity in one or more of the songs (including many uses of the "f" word (some with the prefix "mother")
  • In the song, "Hey Joe," there are the lyrics: "Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? -- Gonna shoot my old lady, caught her messing around with another man. -- Hey Joe, I heard you shot your old lady down."
  • In another song there are the lines: "There will be some lovemaking....don't you want to be more than friends?"
  • PROFANITY
  • 101 "f" words ( 23 with the prefix "mother"), 50 "s" words, 21 "ass" words, 15 damns, 8 hells, 1 slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 1 crap, 1 SOB, and 11 uses of "God damn," and 1 use each of "Oh my God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Cleo and her girlfriend deep French kiss.
  • Stony needs money to help put her brother through college. She meets a car salesman and asks for a job and/or up-front money. He wants to know what she'll do for him to make it worth his while to help her out. At first she balks at this request, but later is seen lying underneath the man as he has sex with her. There's no nudity, but there is sexual movement and his moans and grunts are heard. She has sex for money.
  • Cleo and her girlfriend are having foreplay. The girlfriend is dressed in a skimpy outfit and the sides of her breasts can be seen as can her bare buttocks in a thong bottom.
  • Keith and Stony have sex. Her bare buttocks are seen, but there's no other nudity. There are many scenes of hands moving down parts of each other's bodies, as well as oil being applied. There's little sexual movement, but instead quick dissolves of them being in ecstasy.
  • Luther's seen having sex with a prostitute in a motel. He's on top of her and her bare breasts can be seen. There's sexual movement, but no other nudity since the lower parts of their bodies are under the covers.
  • SMOKING
  • People are drinking and smoking at a retro 70's party.
  • Cleo smokes several times during the movie.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Stony must deal with the death of her brother (but her grief doesn't last very long).
  • The women rush Tisean's young son to the hospital after he ingests some sort of poison while they're working. He's okay, but the state temporarily takes the son away until she can prove it wasn't neglect and has the money to take care of him.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Robbing banks (or other such activities) to make quick money.
  • Lesbianism.
  • VIOLENCE
  • There is a bank robbery by a bunch of guys, armed with guns and machine guns. Frankie knows one of them and her reluctance to give an acquaintance the money makes the gunman anxious. A security guard is knocked out by one of the robbers. The gunman then holds his handgun to a woman's head and moments later pulls the trigger, killing her and splattering blood everywhere and onto Frankie. A guard then comes out and shoots at the robbers who return the fire. The guard manages to shoot one of the robbers before he's mowed down by machine gun fire. The first guard gets up and then shoots and kills another robber.
  • Frankie says "Let's just blow it (the bank) the f*ck up" as the four women begin conspiring to rob banks.
  • Stony slaps her brother, Stevie, when he tells her he didn't get accepted into college.
  • Stevie gets two initials shaved into his hair that duplicate those seen on a robber in the bank surveillance tape. When Stevie leaves Lorenzo's, the police surround him and order him on the ground. He gets down and reaches to remove a bottle of champagne from his coat. The police, thinking he's the robber and is reaching for a gun, open fire and kill him. There's a lot of blood. The police then burst into Lorenzo's apartment, guns drawn. He jumps out and fires his machine gun at the police, hitting many of them. The police then return fire and later on, the bloody bodies of Stevie, Lorenzo and several police officers are seen lying on the road.
  • Stony tries to attack Det. Strode after Stevie's death, but is held back by the others.
  • Cleo car jacks a man and uses her two guns to enforce her action (the actual scene isn't viewed, but her walking up (with guns) to the man is, as is the later scene with her driving the stolen truck).
  • Cleo holds her gun to Stony's head when they argue about Stony wanting out of their "gang." Stony tells Cleo that she's "acting real high and real stupid." Once the others convince Cleo to lower the gun, Stony slaps her across the face and then threatens to hit her with a bottle.
  • The ladies knock off another bank (with guns drawn), but this time the police are outside. So Cleo drives a stolen truck through the storefront window and picks up the other women. She then backs the truck through a wall, knocking a chef onto and then over a hot griddle in an adjoining restaurant. They then drive back through the bank and out another storefront window and onto the street and nearly cause passing cars to crash into each other.
  • One of the women hits Luther on the back of his head while he's having sex with a prostitute. They then search the motel room for "their" money, and he pulls out his gun and aims it at Cleo. Tisean then shoots him several times in the back, killing him. As they leave, Cleo threatens the prostitute (with a gun to her head) not to talk or else they'll come and find her. Later, in a police lineup, Cleo glares through the two-way mirror, and although she can't see her, she intimidates the woman not to identify her.
  • In their last bank robbery, the women spray mace into a guard's eyes and then bash his head into a wall, knocking him out. They then rob the place with guns and machine guns. They fire a gun at a teller and miss on purpose and then fire more shots at another teller who isn't following their directions. Strode and his partner respond to the robbery and then there's a standoff between the armed women and the armed cops. Strode nearly talks them down, when a guard races out and shoots Tisean. Then everyone starts shooting and bullets are flying everywhere (especially from Cleo's machine gun) and bodies are hit. There's a good amount of blood coming from Tisean's body that leaves a bloody smear on the floor as she's dragged along. Another truck is driven through the bank's window and then back out again, with Cleo firing her machine gun out in the public. As the truck backs up, a pedestrian is hit and knocked aside.
  • There's a big car chase seen with cars smashing into each other.
  • The police finally surround Cleo who tries to drive through and away from their blockade. They riddle her car with bullets. They think she's dead, but she gets out, fires her machine gun, and they riddle her with bullets and she falls to the street dead.
  • The police catch up with Frankie and have their guns aimed at her. Strode tries to talk her down, but she momentarily puts her gun to his head. She then tries to run away, but is shot dead by the police.



  • Reviewed October 25, 1996

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