Parents' Guide to

Casting JonBenet

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Docudrama revisits notorious child murder; violence, sex.

Movie NR 2017 80 minutes
Casting JonBenet Poster Image

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Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Utter disgusting waste of 1h20m .. Director Kitty Green should be ashamed..

Oh TOTAL BARF - total atrocious, monstrous failure. Rated Netflix's "let's phone it in," "Casting JonBenét (2017)" jusssssst barrrrrrrrely 1of5stars. Big thumbs down! This so-called "documentary" is the poster-child - no pun - for profiting off (exploiting) a crime story, whilst having imputed the least effort and budget. If you're a True Crime fan do yourself a favor and skip this pièce de shiite totale. Addresses maybe 15-20 facts of the case at most. The rest is drivel: Merely E- (not B rated..) rated "actors" auditioning for roles such as Patsy, John, confessor John Carr, Santa, Police Chief, brother Burke etc, and off-camera each gives their elaborate, mundane and wacky life stories which no one cares about, and professes their opinions and wild theories on the case. Tons of useless filler, eg. A JonBenet actress in full beauty pageant regalia dancing around her hallway at home, some Burke 10yo tryout kids being interviewed about their background and acting experience and then are shown striking small watermelons with a flashlight. I truly dearly hope (1) by watching this I didn't make more money for the producers and, (2) that the auditions led to an actual fictionalized biopic film but I sadly seriously doubt it! Waste of 1h20m. Kitty Green you should be ashamed. (fat money sack emoji here).

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

It's difficult to see the point of this wandering exercise in exploitation. One wishes that this bizarre documentary/drama had raised the moral issue of the way JonBenet and other young pageant contestants are exploited and the way that the media have exploited her murder story for the last 20 years. Instead, Casting JonBenet just goes ahead and exploits it some more. Isn't putting young girls auditioning to play JonBenet in makeup and costume just as unsettling as putting JonBenet herself in the makeup and costumes? The movie does touch on anti-woman bias, but almost as a nagging and unavoidable side issue. Male and female actors alike give father John a pass on the murder, but believe Patsy did it. Some theorize that John might have had sex with his 6-year-old daughter, but that's just another view of how men hate and exploit women. Actors offer some sketchy information about the case, all of which seems to be based on the "expertise" that living in Colorado somehow bestows on them and, in some cases, on doing some research to win their individual roles.

But the theories they offer have no more value than those offered by gossipers we all hear at the office coffee machines. Did Patsy kill the girl because she had wet the bed? Was Patsy, a former pageant contender herself, homicidal because she was aging and jealous of her beautiful pageant queen daughter? Some actors report as facts information said to be from the police investigation and JonBenet's autopsy. Nothing in this part-nonfictional series of interviews and part-dramatic re-enactment of events differentiates between truth and speculation. The re-enactment of the night of the murder is certainly as speculative as the actors' thoughts on who might have killed the girl and why. Here's a bit more speculation: Given the nicely-shot, well-edited and competently scored re-enactment scenes that do make it into the movie, it feels as if writer-director Kitty Green might have run out of money sufficient to complete the picture and just intercut audition and interview footage to cobble together a feature-length something or other. In any case, whether the result was originally planned or improvised, this is a wonderful showcase of local talent. Serious, earnest actors who value their craft and, looking less like flawless Hollywood stars than like regular, everyday people, get the chance to show how good they are.

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