Beware the Gonzo

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Beware the Gonzo Movie Poster Image
High school reporter exposes bully in teen comedy with edge.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Gonzo and his friends learn that you shouldn't be intimidated by bullies; they all have a weakness, just like the rest of us. That said, Gonzo also bends a few rules (and exposes others' secrets) to pursue his dreams.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gonzo and his friends are the social misfits of Parker Prep, but they aren't doormats. They stand up for what they think is right and refuse to let a crowd of popular bullies rule the school, despite opposition from the administration. Some stereotyping of different cliques at the school.


A few physical encounters between high school students, including fistfights, wrestling, and violent bullying. One scene features people watching a video of an attempted sexual assault.


Several discussions about sex. A few scenes show teens kissing and suggest that more is about to happen.


Frequent swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "whore," and "bastard." A few people make obscene gestures.


Gonzo often works on an Apple laptop and craves Red Bull energy drinks.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One scene shows adults drinking beer while relaxing at home, and a few scenes feature teens who appear to be drinking at a party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this indie teen comedy about a high school student who starts an underground newspaper and must overcome opposition from the school and his classmates deals with teen-relevant topics like bullying and cliques. It brings some mature content to the table in doing so, from frequent swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t") to drinking, sexual situations, and a scene in which characters watch a video of an attempted rape.

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What's the story?

Eddie "Gonzo" Gilman (Ezra Miller) wants to be both the Woodward and Bernstein of Parker Prep, but Gavin Reilly (Jesse McCartney), the popular editor at the student paper, has no interest in that kind of investigative journalism. So when Reilly fires him, Gonzo and his fellow misfits start their own underground publication. Their mission: reveal the seamy underside of their high school and hopefully expose Reilly as the nasty bully he is.

Is it any good?

It's not totally clear whether the movie's title refers to the hero or his eponymous publication, but both of them do a great job of stirring up trouble and exposing hypocrisy. The film is a little bit over the top in portraying a clique of athletes who dominate the school's nerds and misfits with the tacit approval of the principal, but it's plenty of fun to watch Reilly and his pals get their long-overdue comeuppance, and it's just as entertaining to see Gonzo and the rest of the unseen students of Parker Prep get a chance in the spotlight.


Campbell Scott and Amy Sedaris have small roles as Gonzo's parents, who vacillate between support for his rebellious endeavor and concern when his actions may threaten his college prospects. And Zoe Kravitz stands out in a much meatier role as Gonzo's romantic interest who has her own reasons for taking down Reilly. Pitting nerds against popular kids isn't especially original, but the film is entertaining enough.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Gonzo's decision to start a newspaper. What were his motivations? Is it ever OK to use any kind of media to reveal others' secrets?

  • How does the movie portray bullying? How does physical bullying compare to cyberbullying?

  • Are the movie's characters relatable? Teens: Do they remind you of anyone at your school? Do you and your friends deal with similar situations? Does the movie have realistic consequences for the characters' behavior?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen tales

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