Austin Found

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Austin Found Movie Poster Image
Mature, misguided comedy about faked child kidnapping.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Makes a few vague points about how Americans are obsessed with beauty and media, but there's no real clear message.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are amoral and not very bright. A supporting character shows kindness toward a child. An 11-year-old girl questions the idea of beauty pageants, saying that they raise unrealistic expectations for beauty.

Violence

A man slaps a young girl and uses chloroform on her. A man grabs a woman roughly. Man is beaten with a fireplace log. Smothering with pillow. Characters die. Painful-looking fall on floor. Slapping. "Sex crimes against a minor" mentioned on TV news. Arguing, threats.

Sex

Naked male bottom. Sexual innuendo. A character thinks about sex all the time. A married woman kisses another man. Sexy image on a man's T-shirt. Mention of "bestiality."

Language

Frequent use of "f--k," "s--t." Also "bulls--t," "p---y," "c--k," "ass," "son of a bitch," "bitch," "d--k," "bastard," "whore," "hell," "damn," "crap," "goddamn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman takes too many painkillers and passes out. She puts sleeping drugs into her family's food. A man is frequently drunk and is shown drinking beer as well as from a metal flask.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Austin Found is a crime dramedy about a woman who stages a fake kidnapping of her young daughter. There are a few moments of violence against the girl, including a slap and chloroforming. Characters are also smothered and beaten with blunt objects, and there's a dead body, as well as other violent moments, threats, and arguments. Language is strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. A man's naked bottom is shown, a married woman kisses another man, and sex is definitely on at least one character's mind frequently. One character drinks a lot, from a flask and bottles of beer. Pain pills/sleeping pills are part of the plot.

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What's the story?

In AUSTIN FOUND, former beauty pageant queen Leanne (Linda Cardellini) is now a Texas mom who obsessively enters her 11-year-old daughter, Patty (Ursula Parker), in a new round of competitions. Unfortunately, Patty's dance and voice classes are depleting the family bank account, so Leanne gets a wicked idea. She reconnects with an old boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich), and concocts a fake kidnapping scheme. Billy's pal, J.T. (Craig Robinson), agrees to watch Patty for several weeks; as the search for the "missing" girl commences, the two hit it off, bonding over video games and a shared love of music. Unfortunately, Billy comes unhinged and starts acting erratically, and a local TV news reporter (Kristen Schaal) senses that something's amiss.

Is it any good?

Packed with talented comedy stars, this misguided misfire isn't just unfunny; it doesn't seem like it was ever supposed to be -- it wanders, lost between a serious crime drama and a biteless satire. Though Cardellini is a terrific, often underrated performer, she can't generate much sympathy or interest in her bitter, selfish character. She's supposed to be a metaphor for media-obsessed Americans, but Austin Found doesn't dig any deeper than that. And even a solid pratfall can't generate any laughs.

The fake kidnapping plot is really just dumb, not to mention not terribly original, and the filmmakers lazily ignore all the logistics of a story that takes place over a month's time. Can the police really find no clues? Hasn't Patty changed her pajamas in four weeks? At least Robinson's scenes with young Parker are sweet, and Jaime Pressly and Patrick Warburton each earn a few giggles in very small roles. But the filmmakers leave no clue as to what they were really trying to say or what they thought was funny; Austin Found is as misguided as they come.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Austin Found's violence. Does it seem more intense or shocking when it's directed at a young girl? Why? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does the main character use sex to her advantage? Does this come across as empowering? Why or why not?

  • What does the movie have to say about Americans' obsessions with beauty and/or the media? What lessons are learned?

  • How is drinking portrayed in the movie? Is it appealing or destructive? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat movies

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