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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is about empathy and understanding; the climax comes when the main character finally finds people he can talk to and those people are willing to listen without judgment. But for a long time, he avoids connecting with his mother, or a therapist, or even a friend.
Positive Role Models
Many of the characters are suffering and just trying to get by. None of them does anything terribly heroic or outstanding. Teens are shown drinking, smoking, and shoplifting, without consequence.
Violence & Scariness
The main character is chased by bullies and punched once in the face. He has a black eye throughout the movie. Another fight, another punch to the face. Small scratch below the eye. Dead animals (crow, hamster, fly, etc.). Discussions of death, dying, and suicide. The main character is briefly chased by imaginary, nightmarish, shadowy figures.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss on a dance floor. Adults flirt.
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Three uses of "f--k," several uses of "s--t," two uses of "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A secondary teen character is shown to be a regular drinker (whisky), smoker, and pot user; he shares with the main character. Teen characters shoplift a bottle of alcohol and drink it. The main character comes home drunk, and his mother is shown to be a heavy drinker. A teen girl describes how she once took pills and had to have her stomach pumped.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All the Wilderness is a coming-of-age drama about a troubled teen trying to cope after the death of his father. Teen characters drink pretty frequently (sometimes to the point of getting drunk); they also smoke cigarettes and pot. All of this is without much in the way of consequences. A teen girl talks about a time when she took an overdose of pills and had her stomach pumped. There's also frequent talk of death, dying, and suicide. The main character is bullied and punched in the face; he sports a black eye throughout the movie, then gets into another fight later and is punched in the other eye. Language is infrequent but contains a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." There's a scene of teen kissing. Despite the dark material, the main character eventually learns to trust others and finds help unburdening himself, and ultimately this is a vivid, poetic movie for older teens and adults. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As the debut feature for writer/director Michael Johnson, ALL THE WILDERNESS is a remarkable achievement. Many young filmmakers tell somewhat similar coming-of-age stories about lost characters, but Johnson allows the movie to become a place that his young hero can get lost in. The camera sadly searches and roams, never quite finding any answers or anywhere to land. And the main character's narration ventures further into primal themes.
Thankfully, All the Wilderness doesn't collapse into a grungy-looking, hand-held mess. Johnson prefers a dreamy look, a slow, meditative tone in which feelings, details, and ideas can be absorbed. The movie doesn't tell its story, it feels it. At only 76 minutes, the movie may feel slight, but it's slighter than a well-written short story. Johnson's touch with actors is equally instinctive; the performances are all fine, and Madsen, especially, is terrific in her sympathetic role.
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.