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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this adaptation of author Stephenie Meyer's youth culture phenomenon Twilight was one of the most anticipated movies of 2008. Millions of kids 10 to 18 have read the books, and many more are familiar with them. Like the novel, the film features an intense romantic relationship between a gorgeous vampire and a human girl. There are a few kisses and several stares, hand touches, and embraces. One make-out session takes place on a bed with the girl in her underwear, but it's abruptly stopped. The movie's violence is mostly implied, but there's one particularly disturbing scene involving vampires, blood, a bitten human with a broken limb, and the destruction of an evil vampire. Language and drinking aren't issues; product placement is mostly limited to cars -- Volvo, Hummer, Mercedes, etc.
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What's the story?
TWILIGHT is based on Stephenie Meyer's bestselling young adult novel that's hooked millions of tween girls (and their mothers). Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a smart, mature teenager who moves from sunny Phoenix to live with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), in the rainiest city in the country -- tiny Forks, Wash. At school, Bella encounters five gorgeous, aloof, alabaster-skinned siblings. One of them, auburn-haired Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), is assigned as her science partner, and soon Bella starts crushing on the mysterious, charming, super-strong guy. He likes her, too -- in fact, he'd love nothing more than to suck her blood, because he's a vampire. But unlike most evil undead, Edward and his family are "vegetarians" who stick to animal blood in order to live among humans. Can a human girl and a vampire boy overcome his kind's thirst for blood and find true love?
Is it any good?
Director Catherine Hardwicke nails the teen emotions and relationships, and she stays surprisingly faithful to the novel. But while the Bella-Edward romance is appropriately swoony, other parts of the film are quite schlocky and even unintentionally funny (like Edward's facial expressions at his first whiff of Bella's intoxicating scent). While some of the supporting cast is spot-on (Ashley Greene is pixie-ish and graceful as prescient vampire Alice, and Burke's Charlie is exactly the kind of loving-but-hands-off father Meyer describes), other characters -- like Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) -- are reduced to one note. In Rathbone's case, he's a statue with overly gelled locks and a permanent look of irritation that got many laughs. But cosmetic issues aside, most of the characters -- right down to the villainous vampires led by James (Cam Gigandet) -- act like their counterparts in the novel.
From Edward's shiny silver Volvo and Bella's beat-up red truck to the glittery meadow scene, the lullaby and the longing looks, Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have included most of the book's essential details. But moviegoers who have no idea why so many girls in the audience are wearing "Team Edward" tees will find aspects of Twilight silly and superficial. Clearly, the real story is the Bella-Edward romance, and in that respect the film should appease hardcore Twilighters (the on-screen kisses are even more passionate than in the book). Stewart does Bella justice with her constant clumsiness and her serious gazes. Pattinson is dreamy and intense, although it would've been better had the British actor perfected a more refined American accent. When the star-struck couple first leaps through the trees together or kisses, brace yourself for applause and giddy shrieks. Those who don't mind teen love served with a side of cheese (and bloodlust) will enjoy it. And no matter what, it's going to be an absolute must-see for the series' teen-vampire-adoring fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various themes that have made Twilight and its sequels such a huge success: first (and forbidden) love, restraint in getting intimate, everlasting and unconditional romance, and heart-thumping adventure.
Do you think Bella is a good role model for teen girls? Why or why not? Do you think she and Edward have a healthy relationship?
If you've read the book, did the film meet your expectations? What changes were good for the film? What scenes did you miss from the novel?
Why do you think the books and the movie have inspired such fanatical devotion? For more talking points, check out our article.
- In theaters: November 21, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: March 21, 2009
- Cast: Billy Burke, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
- Director: Catherine Hardwicke
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and a scene of sensuality
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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