A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Popularity isn't everything. Family sticks together and supports each other.
Positive Role Models
Megan supports her friends and encourages Liz to be herself.
Violence & Scariness
Kids are trained to be assassins. Lots of comic fight scenes but nothing graphic. Someone gets stabbed in the leg with a corn dog and knocked unconscious. Lots of guns, grenades, and other weapons, though most are never used. Talk of killing people, and guns are held to characters' heads, but no one is killed on-screen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of innuendo and jokes about sex and genitalia, including a running gag about Regina, Canada, rhyming with vagina. A girl gets a penis drawn on her face. A few kisses between teens.
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"Bitch" (many times), "f--k," "dick," "s--t," "a--hole," "dammit," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of references to teen movies such as Clueless, The Breakfast Club, and Mean Girls. A few obvious product placements such as Quiznos drink cups and a reference to Sbarro pizza.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink at a party, one until she's drunk. References to bath salts and marijuana. Megan gets injected with truth serum and acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Barely Lethal is a star-studded spy comedy featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba, and Hailee Steinfeld (of True Grit fame). Though it's about training kids to be assassins, the film is comedic, not graphic. There are a lot of fight scenes and weapons (including grenades, guns, and knives), but the violence is slapstick and over the top, not scary. Still, there's a lot of innuendo -- including many jokes about genitalia -- and talk of sex, some drinking, and a few references to drugs. There's also quite a bit of swearing ("f--k" once, "bitch," "ass," and the like many times), making this comedy best for teens and up. Fans of classic teen movies will enjoy the many references to favorites such as The Breakfast Club and Clueless, though they may be less pleased with a few obvious product placements for fast-food brands. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although it tries really hard to cleverly poke fun at all the clichés you usually find in teen movies, this sometimes-funny comedy ultimately falls victim to them. Though we see that not all high school kids fit the stereotypes, the plot insists on sticking with tired formulas such as the love triangle among the girl, the nerd, and the most popular boy in school. BARELY LETHAL is often laugh-out-loud funny, but the characters are underdeveloped and one-dimensional, and most of the plot points feel like add-ons that are never fully developed. And with the movie continually referencing classics such as The Breakfast Club, it sets itself up for failure from the beginning.
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.