A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Babyteeth is a funny, yet also moving Australian drama about an unlikely friendship and romance with scenes of drug taking and strong language throughout. Milla (Eliza Scanlen) is a 15-year-old schoolgirl who is living with cancer. When she befriends Moses (Toby Wallace), a homeless man struggling with drug addiction, her parents are dismayed, but also see how happy Moses makes her. Moses steals drugs to feed his habit. He is often seen high and subsequently treats Milla badly. Milla's own parents, Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn), also have their own issues with drugs. Anna takes prescription drugs, but tries to come off them. While Henry is caught secretly injecting morphine. Moses also regularly smokes and Milla is seen throwing up after drinking too much vodka at a party. There is strong language throughout, including variants of "f--k" and "s--t," alongside "d--khead," and "p---y." There are two sex scenes, but neither are gratuitous or contain any nudity beyond a shirtless male and the displaying of a bra. There is hardly any violence, but in one scene, at the request of Millie, Moses holds a pillow over her face in an attempt to suffocate her, but can't go through with it. While they could be considered "dysfunctional," Milla and her family are loving, while even the relationship between Mille and Moses has moments of tenderness and compassion.
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What's the story?
In BABYTEETH, when Milla (Eliza Scanlen), a 15-year-old schoolgirl with cancer, befriends Moses (Toby Wallace), a young homeless man struggling with drug addiction, she finds a new zest for life. However, for Milla's parents, Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) -- who themselves have their own issues -- it's a relationship they wish to stop. That is until they see how happy Moses makes her.
Is it any good?
Shannon Murphy's directorial debut will have you laughing out loud one minute, and the next wiping away a tear as it expertly manages to blend humor with drama. There are no villains in this movie. Nor are there heroes. What Babyteeth does boast is a collection of characters who are all fighting their own battles, even if some are more obvious than others. At the heart of the movie is Milla -- superbly played by Scanlan -- who despite her cancer, maintains the common characteristics that are so prevalent amongst teens. She's at times disobedient, others compassionate, and she's not against breaking the rules. She also does her best not to be defined by her illness, which causes friction with her pill-popping and anxious mother, Anna.
Indeed the idea of putting a label on people is a central theme in the movie. In one scene, after Milla's father, Henry, calls Moses a "drug addict," Milla responds with "Don't pigeonhole him." Just as there's more to Milla than her cancer, as the movie develops, so does Moses. Likewise Milla's parents -- who despite the nice house and money to send Milla to private school -- have their own flaws and demons to overcome. This is a film as layered as the characters that inhabit it and subsequently feels realistic, truthful, and strangely reassuring.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Babyteeth portrays drug use. Are there consequences? Why is that important? Discuss the different ways drugs are used by the various characters. Does that make a difference to how you see them?
Talk about the strong language in the movie. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie?
How does the movie portray sex. Is it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Talk about the relationship between Milla and Moses. Do you think it's a healthy relationship? How does it evolve?
How does Milla deal with her illness? How does it impact her life? How successfully does she carry on with her life despite it?
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