A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Baby Driver is an action-packed crime drama about a young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) for a group of Atlanta bank robbers. Violence is constant and often glamorized. There are several mass shootings, with machine-gun deaths choreographed to music; you'll also see several car accidents with splintering glass and bloody dead bodies, sudden deaths, blood, and gore. Many of the characters eventually die sudden, terrible deaths. The main character is a reckless driver who performs over-the-top stunts; parents may want to remind teens not to try this at home. Characters kiss and make references to "getting it on" or "role playing." Female characters are in short supply, and the ones who are in the movie are sidelined, portrayed in a stereotypical way, and ogled by both the characters and the camera. There's lots of swearing, including "f--k," "ass," "goddamn," and more. One man calls another a "retard" and a "freak"; he also calls men things like "ladies" to imply they're weak. There's some smoking and social drinking; one character has a drug addiction he feeds by stealing.
What's the story?
Written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), BABY DRIVER stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, an emotionally damaged young man whose youthful mistakes landed him in debt to mysterious crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). Now Baby is a getaway driver for Doc, and he's so good at what he does that he seems unstoppable -- and stylish, since he always selects the perfect song for each caper. Just one more job will get him out of hock; then he can get a real job and live in peace with his foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones). Maybe he can even go out on a date with Debora (Lily James), the cute waitress at his favorite diner. But with the volatile Buddy (Jon Hamm), Bats (Jamie Foxx), and Darling (Eiza González) on the job, complications are almost guaranteed -- and the likelihood that Baby's going to get away clean is getting smaller all the time.
Is it any good?
Whenever Elgort's Baby is behind the wheel, this movie is a ballet of stylish automotive mayhem -- but the minute everyone gets out, things quickly slump into stereotypes. One last job, really? A hero whose Tragic Backstory includes a Poetically Ironic orphaning (his parents died in a car accident -- Baby drives a car!)? Exactly two female characters, including a manic pixie dream girl and a gun moll with supermodel looks who's killed to give a villain murderous motivation? Baby Driver goes exactly where you expect it will, and it has the exact same beats you've seen plenty of times before.
Nonetheless, Baby Driver isn't without its merits -- chiefly the incredible style with which its driving stunts are handled. With an impassive Elgort in the driver's seat, his ever-present earbuds clamped on and operatic songs by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Queen swelling on the soundtrack, a succession of cars dart and climb and swerve and slide, drawing gasps and cheers from the audience. It's something truly beautiful to see. But it's so short on emotion that while it dazzles the eye, it fails to grab viewers on a visceral level. Baby is a hero you can enjoy but not truly cheer for. Too bad.
Talk to your kids about ...
What does Baby Driver have in common with popular car-chase video games like Grand Theft Auto? Do you think shows and games that feature reckless driving have an affect on the people who watch and/or play them? Does exposure to violent media make people more aggressive?
Are any of these characters role models? How can they be heroes if they're stealing and destroying property? Can you think of other movies in which "bad guys" are the heroes?
- In theaters: June 28, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 10, 2017
- Cast: Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey
- Director: Edgar Wright
- Studios: Sony Pictures Entertainment, TriStar Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and trucks
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language throughout
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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.