Story

Based on real theatrical history, Me and Orson Welles is a romantic coming-of age story. It’s about an aspiring teenage actor, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), who gets a role in a modern production of Julius Caesar on Broadway in 1937. The play is being directed by brilliant and impetuous young director Orson Welles, at his newly renovated Mercury Theatre in New York City.

The movie follows the rollercoaster week leading up to opening night. The charismatic but at times nasty Welles is staking his entire career on the risky production. Richard mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands behind the scenes. His adventures put an entirely different light on the world of show business in 1937.

Themes

Infidelity; opportunism

Violence

This movie contains some violence. For example:

  • During an assassination scene in the performance, a dagger is plunged into a man’s chest. Blood drips from the wound. Other actors have artificial blood on their hands.
  • Orson pushes Richard against a tree and holds him by the scruff of his neck.
  • Orson verbally bullies other cast members throughout the movie.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five. For example, Richard accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers. This sends water suddenly squirting out and results in the power going out. In the darkness, there is lots of chaos and screaming.

From 5-13

There are no scenes likely to frighten children in this age group, other than those mentioned above.

Over 13

There are no scenes likely to frighten children in this age group, other than those mentioned above.

Sexual references

This movie contains many sexual references. For example:

  • The entire cast is aware of Orson’s affairs, particularly the one with his leading lady. The cast has a special code for when Orson’s pregnant wife visits the theatre.
  • Richard’s older cast members talk about a ‘gymnast’ lover. One says that he hoped she held the ‘monkey bars’.
  • The cast members bet on who can sleep with Sonja first.
  • Sonja tells Richard that her left breast is smaller than her right.
  • Sonja and Richard ‘spend the night together’ after a night of dancing.
  • Sonja tells Richard that Orson wants her to ‘stay with him tonight’.
  • Richard tells Orson that Sonja is his lover.
  • Many cast members talk about who they have slept with in the cast.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie contains some use of substances. For example:

  • Cast members constantly smoke cigarettes.
  • Orson Welles smokes Cuban cigars and offers one to Richard, who is only 17 years old.
  • Characters drink wine, scotch and champagne. Richard is offered a glass of red wine, which he drinks.

Nudity and sexual activity

There are many sexual innuendos and references in this movie. But there is only one example of sexual activity in this movie, when Richard and Sonja kiss on the lips.

Product placement

Weeties cereal is mentioned once in the movie.

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild to moderate swearing and coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Me and Orson Welles is a movie showing a week in a life of a teenage boy who stumbles into theatrical life on Broadway. The movie shows us characters deceiving each other in the hope of success on the stage. They lie about their whereabouts and activities – particularly their sexual ones – to avoid getting in trouble and to manipulate other people.

The main messages in this movie concern the true meaning of happiness. The movie suggests that happiness might be based on strong relationships and education. Characters who take advantage of opportunities, change their goals and achieve fame are not necessarily happy or content.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • working hard to achieve goals
  • sticking with your personal morals
  • sticking up for personal beliefs.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of:

  • treating and talking to people with respect
  • having a positive body image and self-esteem
  • completing your education
  • smoking and drinking, and the negative health consequences of these activities.