A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Speculates that people may have little or no control over their individual destinies (the concept of free will). Also, suggests that t's important to address significant issues, such as guilt and grief.
Positive Role Models
The main character is hardworking, resourceful, and determined; he's also fragile, obsessive, and guilt-ridden. Few female characters; one is a competent therapist. Limited ethnic diversity.
Violence & Scariness
Violent scenes include a bloody murder, the gruesome disposal of a body, and jumps from a tall building; these sequences may be repeated, depending on the viewer's choices. Long sequence in which a young man fights fiercely with a woman, who holds her own. Several scary monsters make brief appearances. A psychedelic episode has some violent images. A young boy misses/mourns his mother, who dies in an accident (off screen).
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Frequent profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "balls," and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
W.H. Smith bookstore, brief Frosted Flakes ad, promotion for Netflix itself.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters take hallucinogenic drugs, leading to mind-bending perceptions, behavior, and grotesque images. Marijuana is used. Main character uses prescribed anti-depressants. Characters smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a stand-alone movie that's part of the British Black Mirror TV franchise, which takes a dark, often satirical look at cultural and social behavior. Set in 1984, Bandersnatch takes the series in a new direction thanks to its interactive, game-like elements; in certain scenes, viewers with compatible devices will be asked to choose one of two options, and the story will continue (or end) based on that choice. As the story progresses, most options will lead to some violent scenes (spoiler alert: there's a bloody murder, a brutal fight, the gruesome disposal of a body, and death via suicide). In flashback, a child misses/mourns his mother, who dies in an accident off screen. Characters also use marijuana, take psychedelic drugs, and smoke cigarettes; they also swear a lot, using words including "f--k," "s--t," and "hell." At the heart of the movie are provocative themes about the nature of reality, time, and the concept of free will. Note: At the time of this review, the movie's interactive component was not supported on all devices (i.e., Chromecast, Apple TV). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Clever, surprising, and a crash course in the concept of "free will," this movie forces its viewers to impact the story, just as it forces its central player to go along with those demands. Strikingly well done, especially for a first foray into complex audience involvement, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch sets a high bar for similarly styled films that will inevitably follow. It's intriguingly set in the early stages of video game development, so that Stefan's machinations feel just primitive enough to clash with new technology and heighten the action, as well as his emotional journey.
And, as experimental as it must have been for director David Slade to make this film, it's just as experimental for viewers. Happily, going back and forth between first choices and second ones, guided by the filmmakers when "least best" choices are made, can deliver lots of nuance, along with its a host of divergent paths. Still, the movie's plot, characters, and thematic messages remain the same, no matter how meandering the journey. All in all, this is a first-rate addition to the Black Mirror franchise.
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.