Affluenza Movie Poster Image

Affluenza

(i)

 

Wealthy young people party in overly ambitious drama.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Money doesn't buy happiness in this film set among the very wealthy. In fact, despite -- or perhaps because of -- all their material possessions, the young people in this film seem to have little grounding in life. They shop and bicker and party but don't seem to care about much of anything. Their parents are little different, older but not wiser. And when the money goes away, nobody knows what to do with themselves.

Positive role models

Nobody really sets a good example here. Not the spoiled rich kids, and not their materialistic parents. And not even the main character, who seems to be slightly removed from the jaded perspective of his wealthy friends but still has no real idea how to approach life.

Violence

Two men get involved in a shoving match and fight on a golf course. A drunk woman intimidates another woman, using abusive and hurtful language. A father in the midst of a major career crisis yells at everyone in the house. One character belittles his girlfriend fairly regularly.

Sex

Some kissing and some discussion of people have sex and engaging in other sexual activities. One scene with people swimming in a pool features a topless woman kissing a guy. Another scene shows a woman in her underwear starting to undress a guy, but they're quickly distracted and go no further. A character's mother is seen flirting with another character's husband, and it's suggested that there's more going on between them.

Language

Frequent swearing, including multiple variations of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." The college-age young people swear casually when they talk among themselves and also when talking to their parents. Some characters also engage in a somewhat racist/derogatory discussion about a Hispanic woman.

Consumerism

Some rich characters, mostly girls, talk about shopping frequently. One man repeatedly brags about driving an Aston Martin. But there are surprisingly few name brands visible, given that the whole point of the film is to expose the fact that excessive wealth and material objects don't make people happy. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A fair bit of drinking, both at parties and as people relax at home. Some characters pound shots and hard liquor and get pretty wasted. Even more characters smoke marijuana. The main character sells pot and smokes it in many, many scenes, with most of the other main characters.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Affluenza is a drama about college-age people that takes place in a wealthy Long Island enclave right when the country is about to topple into the 2008 financial crash -- and the ensuing recession. The characters have plenty of money but little perspective on life, and soon it seems they may have a lot less money. There are plenty of party scenes, including lots of drinking and even more marijuana use (the main character is a pot dealer), as well as some kissing, sexual references, and partial nudity (toplessness, underwear-clad scenes). Expect frequent swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t") and a fist fight in which two young men brawl on a golf course.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Aspiring photographer Fisher Miller (Ben Rosenfield) decides to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in a wealthy Long Island enclave while he tries to transfer into a prestigious college in nearby New York City. His cousin Kate (Nicola Peltz) introduces him to her rich friends, who are happy to discover that Fisher is also a small-time pot dealer who's always ready with a joint. That makes him popular at the group's seemingly nonstop series of parties, but this is no ordinary summer. It's August 2008, and the financial industry that fuels this world is about to buckle under its own excess, threatening everything that Fisher's new friends -- and his uncle, aunt, and cousin -- have ever known.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

AFFLUENZA gets points for ambition. The story it's trying to tell has weight, and the lenses through which it's trying to view a story that's far more expansive than a typical coming-of-age story -- that of a country and its young people colliding head-on with the unshakable realities of a sinking economy -- is important. Nonetheless, the way the film goes about its mission is hackneyed and awkward.

A lackluster plot about an obsessive romance is wedged between far more interesting observations about the young rich and how they fare in a rapidly changing landscape. The kids depicted are a caricature. Even the tragic Dylan (Gregg Sulkin), who in some ways is the sacrificial lamb in all of this, is drawn flimsily. Rosenfield attempts to bring gravitas to his role, which is admirable. But in many ways, Affluenza suffers from its own form of affluenza: too many glam scenes, not enough substance.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Affluenza portrays the wealthy. How do you think having so much money affects the way the young people in this movie view the world? Are their parents any different? What message does that send?

  • How does the film depict drinking and drug use? Are there any consequences? Are they realistic?

  • How does Dylan change during the course of the film, as it becomes clear that his comfortable life soon may be less comfortable? Do other people in the movie behave in similar ways when faced with the same situation? What do you think you'd do?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 11, 2014
DVD/Streaming release date:April 28, 2015
Cast:Steve Guttenberg, Samantha Mathis, Nicola Peltz, Ben Rosenfield
Director:Kevin Asch
Studio:Lookbook Films
Genre:Drama
Topics:Friendship
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Teen, 13 years old Written byClara.leach July 24, 2016

Not that great.

So I'm a HUGE Grant Gustin fan which is the reason I watched this but was quite disappointed. The movie has no central point or meaning. Basically just drugs, rich kids, angry teenagers and adults, and kissing a topless girl. I don't recommend this movie at all,
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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