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The Apartment Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Vintage comedy about sex in the city feels dated.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this screen classic features an attempted suicide via pill overdose and a few other suicide tries (or actions that are mistaken for suicide tries) more or less played for laughs. The main focus of the plotline is sex and adulterous affairs -- but in keeping with censorship of the era, it's lots of carefully-coded talk. Nothing explicit is shown. There are, however, intervals of heavy drinking and smoking. It will be an uphill battle getting some younger viewers who can't tolerate anything not in color to sit still and watch this talky dramedy.

  • Families can talk about the choices C.C. makes. How realistic is his behavior in the end? What would you do if you were in C.C.'s shoes?
  • Ask if the script still has relevance today, in a modern climate of movies like American Pie -- a Hollywood in which a character who refuses to help his buddies "score" and/or cheat on their girlfriends would probably be considered a total jerk. Does The Apartment still mean as much as it once did? 
  • Discuss how the movie revolves around sex without showing any. Everyone keeps his or her clothes on, and there are hardly any rude words in the sharp dialogue. Would The Apartment have been as effective if the talent had brought out the full arsenal of nudity, swearing, bathroom humor, and all the other benefits of modern R and NC-17-ratings?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Though C.C. Baxter eventually does the right thing, there is a certain old-fashioned sexism of women as pliant man-toys and office sex objects, with no outside lives or destinies of their own besides being wives or mistresses/secretaries. While protagonists are overwhelmingly white, filmmakers do suggest the ethnic diversity of New York City with some apparently Jewish characters and some Asians (the latter, however, aren't allowed any dialogue). The skyscraper corporate/big-business environment is portrayed as cutthroat and dispiriting to anyone who doesn't want to play dirty (or violate ethical codes) to get ahead.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: C.C. Baxter is either the nicest guy in the world or the most spineless pushover -- and maybe a mix of both. But he is the most likeable and respectful character, and he makes a noble sacrifice at the end. In her adulterous relationship with Sheldrake, Fran doesn't seem to feel very guilty about what she may be doing to Sheldrake's family, wife, and children, and she attempts to kill herself (we find out that a heartbroken C.C. did too, in the past). Except for Baxter's landlady, women in general in the (pre-feminist) picture seem pretty hopelessly dominated by powerful and disloyal men.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: One punch.  An attempted suicide via pill overdose and a few other suicide tries.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Even though the whole plotline revolves around extramarital affairs, nothing is ever shown, and the dialogue about nonstop lovemaking is all euphemistic. When the hero, Baxter, is suspected by neighbors of having sex with two women in one night, for instance, it's talked about as a "double-header." Baxter refers to himself at one point as a "sexpot" -- and that's as intense as it gets.

  • language false1

    Language: One use of "damn" in the Gone With the Wind sense ("He doesn't give a damn about me").

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Mention of the old Hollywood movie Grand Hotel and the Broadway musical (later filmed) The Music Man.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drinking at a raucous office party, on dates with floozy-ish women, and alcohol in a bar as a remedy for the blues. The main character smokes, and we see a brief ad for cigarettes (the brand not specified) on TV, back when such things were commonplace.