A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 2018
- Cast: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse
- Director: Simon Napier-Bell
- Studio: Bulldog Film Distribution
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: History, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 70 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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