A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No messages here: This is just about a "curse" that randomly happens to a person. The movie tries to explain that the curse feeds on trauma, but it doesn't do anything interesting or useful with this information (i.e., What is trauma? What kinds of trauma are "deserving" of the curse? Doesn't everyone have trauma of some kind?).
Positive Role Models
The main character is a psychiatrist who loves helping others but hasn't dealt with her own issues. She descends into an unstable state and acts erratically as she struggles with hallucinations and nightmares.
Movie focuses on a woman, although she's largely a victim. An interracial relationship falls apart in a way that paints a Black character as unsympathetic. Black supporting characters include a nurse, a prison guard, and a man incarcerated for murder; none have much agency.
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Violence & Scariness
Extreme blood and gore. Character slices own face, with blood gurgling out. Oozing blood puddle. Blood stains. Blood spurts. Dead cat wrapped inside child's birthday present. Multiple stabbings. Character rips own face off more than once. Several jump scares. Extremely gory crime scene photos. Gory surveillance footage (person spears own head with gardening shears). Character falls, crashing through a glass coffee table and slicing up wrists (lots of blood). Person's neck bends in an unnatural way. Character bites off own thumbnail, bleeding wound. Scary monster. Monster on fire. Burning cabin. Unsettling imagery. Creepy drawings. Screaming, panic. Nightmares, hallucinations. Suicide is discussed. Dialogue describing violent events. Arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Women in bra and/or panties. Woman taking shower, her back to the camera.
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Strong language, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "shut up," "head case," "nutcase." "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. A character is labeled as and called "crazy."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character tries to get a prescription for a medicine used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. Character gulps glasses of wine to ease stress. Wine at dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Smile is a horror movie about a psychiatrist (Sosie Bacon) who falls under a mysterious curse; unless she can find a way to break it, she's destined to die by suicide while passing on the curse to someone else. It has chilling moments but is mostly a collection of borrowed ideas and loud jump scares. Expect extreme amounts of gore and violence, with face-slicing, face-ripping, gurgling blood, blood stains, blood spurts, a dead cat wrapped inside a child's birthday present, stabbings, gory crime scene photos, someone crashing through a glass coffee table, a scary monster, a neck bending in an unnatural way, fire, screaming, panic, nightmares, and more. Language is also strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," etc. A woman showers with her back to viewers, and women are shown in bras and panties. There's social drinking, and a character gulps wine after a stressful day and asks for a prescription for a medicine used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The image of a creepy, sinister smile is so primal and so chilling that it might have inspired something truly penetrating, but, sadly, this horror movie is content to fall back on noisy jump scares. The feature writing and directing debut of Parker Finn, Smile isn't without its spine tingles, but they're few and fleeting as the movie treads through a collection of well-worn clichés. The idea of a curse passed from one person to another has been better used in Final Destination, The Ring, It Follows, and more; when that idea succeeds, it's because the evil force remains a mystery. Here, it's explained and detailed down to the last bit, revealing the monster as a stringy-haired thing (just like in The Ring) that's up to no good. Cheap, cacophonous jump scares accompany its every move.
The typical, frantic race against time to find a way to break the curse is here, too, but the long overnight drive to a prison to speak to the one man who managed to survive is a complete waste of time; nothing is learned that viewers didn't already know. (The movie's bulky 115 minutes could have used some trimming.) It even uses the old upside-down-drone-shot driving footage that was featured in Midsommar and other movies. Most of the heavy lifting in Smile is handed to Bacon, whose descent into madness -- everyone she encounters calls her "crazy" -- is ultimately more wearying than touching. Even the smile itself, used so effectively in the movie's opening sequence, is wasted throughout the rest of it. Smile leaves off with the potential for a sequel, but this entry is already pretty sparse, like a mouth without teeth.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.