27: Gone Too Soon

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
27: Gone Too Soon Movie Poster Image
Unsatisfying docu about addiction, death, lost talent.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 70 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Combining industry practices that put making money ahead of an artist's well-being with talented but traumatized people suddenly able to overindulge their every whim is an almost direct path to an artist's addiction to alcohol and drugs. The addiction then causes accidental deaths, except for Kurt Cobain's suicide. A lot of musicians have died relatively young and with unfulfilled promise, mainly due to addiction. Asks why people who were there at the time weren't able to stop the addictions or at least keep an eye on the artist to make sure they were OK.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The talented and charismatic musicians examined all died young because they were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. The musicians interviewed talk about the pressures and pitfalls of celebrity and of the music business but don't talk about how they managed to avoid them while others weren't able to. People in the music industry, writers, journalists, and a few psychologists and psychiatrists offer mostly platitudes and pop-psychology analysis of the artists' lives and deaths. Pointedly mentions several times that Amy Winehouse was Jewish without discussing the other subjects' religious or cultural backgrounds beyond brief mentions of where they were from.

Violence

Mentions of violent deaths, one by suicide and others due to addiction and overdose. Pictures of parts of Kurt Cobain's body and the scene where he was found are disturbing but not gory. Footage from the Vietnam War shows explosions, napalm burning, and bodies on the ground, some with blood and injuries briefly visible. An unknown man is shown from the back putting a gun to his head, which cuts to a shell casing falling on the floor. Mention that Cobain saw a body hanging from a tree once while walking in a forest. Brief mention of bullying within bands and that it's rarely talked about openly.

Sex

Occasional mention that some of the artists had multiple partners and girlfriends, and mention that Brian Jones fathered three children by the time he was 19. Mention that one artist had 20 paternity suits against him at one time.

Language

Rare use of "f--k" and variations, "s--t," and "corporate whore."

Consumerism

Mentions the movies Blow with Johnny Depp and The French Connection as illustrations of the drug trade at different times. JVC and Canon camera equipment prominently shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of archival footage of people preparing to use and using drugs, especially marijuana and heroin. People rolling and smoking joints, drawing liquid from a spoon into a syringe, putting the needle in an arm, and one close-up of blood flowing up into a full syringe before being plunged. Close-up of a clear liquid being dropped into a sugar cube during talk of LSD. A montage shows a pile of colorful pills and white powder being scraped with a razor. Vintage comic book covers about marijuana and LSD shown. Discussion of why cocaine is an appealing drug. Some drawbacks and problems with drugs discussed. Some details about the four artists profiled whose deaths were directly related to taking drugs and alcohol. Mentions Cobain's use of heroin but doesn't speculate how or whether that was a factor in his decision to end his life. Mention of frequent, excessive use of alcohol. Archival footage shows many people smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 27: Gone Too Soon is a documentary about the careers and untimely deaths of five musicians who all died at the age of 27. Four of the five deaths were directly related to alcohol abuse and/or drug overdose, so there's lots of archival footage showing the rolling and smoking of joints, filling and injecting of syringes, piles of colorful pills, and more. A central argument is that it's easy to fall into addiction when you have enough money that you can afford to indulge as much as you want as well as being in an industry that caters to your every whim to keep you creatively productive. Non-graphic details about the deaths are discussed, and some pictures of Kurt Cobain's body (he shot himself) at the scene where he was found are disturbing but not gory. Other violence includes some footage of the Vietnam War and brief discussion of bullying within bands. Profanity is rare but includes a couple instances of "f--k" and variations, "s--t," and "corporate whore." There's very little sexual content beyond mention of artists' having many partners and a couple of artists who are believed to have fathered many children.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCowboyGA August 28, 2018

You forgot someone

I’m not a review but just hoping someone connected to this movie will read this. You forgot a Musician that I can’t believe you overlooked him. It’s “ Blind Al... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKurtLovesCourt June 16, 2018

Love it!

This is awesome <3

What's the story?

27: GONE TOO SOON explores the addictions and deaths of five musicians who all died at the age of 27. Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse leave behind a sense of unfulfilled potential in their catalogs of work that are all too short. How did they descend into addiction, and why? Is it the music industry, their troubled backgrounds, pressure to produce and perform, or all of the above?

Is it any good?

This documentary about the addictions and deaths of five music legends is not only a huge downer, it's also very unsatisfying. 27: Gone Too Soon quickly abandons the idea that there's a "27 club" or there's anything about that age itself that ties these untimely deaths together, and instead it focuses on the roles of drugs, alcohol, and addiction. But it lacks focus and real insight and leaves gaping questions unasked. Its ridiculous premise, that there's something about being 27, makes it seem mostly like a flimsy excuse for industry "insiders" and hangers-on to demonstrate all they know about the lives of these five artists and to offer platitudes and pop psychology while looking for somewhere to point a finger.

Hard-core fans won't find any new information or insight here. With only a very few very brief performance clips shown, and no use of any of the subjects' own music, viewers who may not be familiar with the artists won't experience firsthand their charisma or gain an understanding of the talent that was lost. Teens who are unfamiliar with the artists will learn a little about them and possibly want to learn more on their own. At best they may at least come away with an aversion to excessive drug and alcohol use.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how 27: Gone Too Soon explores drug and alcohol use in the music industry. Is it glamorized? What about the fact that these artists all died?

  • If you weren't familiar with some of the artists' music before, which would you like to know more about? Whose music would you most like to hear and learn more about?

  • Do you agree with the interviewer who said musicians need to go in and out of "altered states" to explore their creativity? What are the dangers and consequences of using drugs for that reason? What are some safe ways to explore creativity?

Movie details

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