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A CIVIL ACTION

 
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At Theaters: 1/8/1999 On Video: 7/13/1999
Rated: PG-13 Length: 1 hr. 58 min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 129807
Studio: Touchstone Pictures Inc.
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Storyline Heading

A small-time, self-possessed personal-injury attorney whose greed entangles him in a case that threatens to destroy him. The Woburn Case, which appears straightforward, instead evolves into a labyrinthine lawsuit of epic proportions where truth, if it can be found at all, resides not in the courtroom, but buried deep in a network of deceit and corruption.

DETAILED STORYLINE
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Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Drama Thriller - This slick but unsatisfying TV-movie-level courtroom drama will mostly appeal to adult fans of the actors involved. Teens, young adults, will suffer from varying degrees of boredom.

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Cast and Crew Heading
John Travolta (Primary Colors)
Robert Duvall (Deep Impact)
Kathleen Quinlan (Event Horizon)
Director: Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List)
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Production Notes Heading
Production Information
About The Characters
About The Production
Life Imitates Art
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Content Heading
PROFANITY: Occasional use of strong profanity.
SEX/NUDITY: None
VIOLENCE: None
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Fleeting glimpses of alcohol consumption.
ACTION: None
COMEDY: A funny line or situation here and there.
DETAILED CONTENT
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Pictures © Touchstone Pictures Inc. ®
All Rights Reserved.

Critic's Review Heading
Average
Every December there emerges a film touted as a major award contender only to come up short. Last year, it was Steven Spielberg's overrated Amistad; this year, it's Steven Zaillian's A Civil Action, which, like the former film, is a technically proficient but ultimately soulless courtroom drama.

DETAILED CRITIC'S REVIEW
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Opinion Heading

Based on an Exit Polling of 223 Moviegoers

Ages Age Group
How
Many
Your Probability of
Enjoying This Movie
*
Would
Recommend
Movie To Friends
13-19Teens (M)
9
Low
56%
13-19Teens (F)
9
Fairly High
78%
20-29Yg Adults (M)
24
Fairly High
71%
20-29Yg Adults (F)
27
Fairly Low
81%
30+Adults (M)
67
Fairly High
81%
30+Adults (F)
87
High
90%
*Possible Ratings: Very High, High, Fairly High, About 50/50, Fairly Low, Low, Very Low.

About Our Opinions

Be sure to read the DETAILED OPINIONS
The positive and negative comments made by moviegoers are very
helpful when selecting a movie that's appropriate for you and your family.

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OPINION GRAPH


D ETAILED S TORYLINE
In 1979, two wells supplying the drinking water for the small town of East Woburn, Massachusetts, were found to be contaminated with industrial solvents. Huge toxic waste sites were discovered later that year, leading to the suspicion that the pollution was caused by local industries. The residents of Woburn had long been concerned about their foul-tasting drinking water and the unexplained high incidence of leukemia deaths in their community.

Anne Anderson (Kathleen Quinlan), a mother whose son Jimmy died of leukemia in 1981, spearheaded the efforts of eight Woburn families to determine the parties responsible for their environmental tragedy. Eventually mega-corporations Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace & Co. were identified as the owners of properties that may have been the possible source of most of the pollutants.

Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta), a personal-injury lawyer, and his small law firm are hired to sue these industrial giants for damages arising from the pollution of the town's drinking water -- damages that could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Jerome Facher (Robert Duvall), chief litigator at a venerable Boston law firm, defends the interests of Beatrice Foods. William Cheeseman (Bruce Norris) defends the interests of international conglomerate W. R. Grace. These codefendants are well aware of the potentially high stakes of this lawsuit and are fully prepared to throw their considerable resources behind an uncompromising defense of these charges.

The trial is presided over by U.S. District Judge Walter J. Skinner (John Lithgow).

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