Chasing Ghosts

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Chasing Ghosts Movie Poster Image
Heavy but often funny movie about grief and afterlife.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Moving past grief; forgiveness; letting people grieve in their own way; living in the present.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucas is curious, deep, and sensitive; parents are engaged and present, though dealing with grief in their own way; friend Chris is a caring adult who helps Lucas find his way back to living his life.

Violence

A squirrel lies in the street, bloody after being run over; morbid content, such as references to death in newspaper clippings, discussions of a boy who was killed in a car accident; a man collapses and is taken to the hospital, survives but has a terminal condition; a boy attends and films funerals.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Eleven-year-old boy pretends to smoke by holding a cigarette to his lips and flicking a lighter near it; adults drink glass of wine with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chasing Ghosts is a heavy-themed but often lighthearted movie about an 11-year-old boy grieving his older brother's death in a car accident (not shown) and his subsequent interest in the afterlife. He films funerals and jokes about and discusses death. There's morbid humor and references, such a dead, bloody squirrel left in the street that he studies, big questions about what happens after we die and whether ghosts exist, and funerals and sad scenes of people dealing with and discussing loss. The boy also pretends to smoke by holding a cigarette to his lips and flicking a lighter near it. But there also are lighter, more uplifting jokes, moments, and friendships and positive messages about what it means to keep on living. 

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What's the story?

When 11-year-old filmmaker Lucas (Toby Nichols) loses his older brother in a car accident, he becomes obsessed with what happens after we die. He films funerals, thinks about death, and asks big questions about what it means to be alive. When one of his videos captures a ghost-like apparition at a funeral and subsequently goes viral, the attention leads him to a friendship with Chris (Tim Meadows), a writer who has had his own brush with death and helps Lucas understand the point of life.

Is it any good?

CHASING GHOSTS is a heavy film that won't be easy for any parents to watch, let alone those who have lost a child. Though the brother's death is not shown, his absence hangs over the movie, and some very difficult scenes demonstrate how hard it is to let go of family members we've lost.

But where Chasing Ghosts earns its keep is the way it blends a smart, big-picture sense of humor about being alive with the profound, everyday heaviness of the grieving process. Lucas is a bright, likable kid, and his questions and resilience and creativity in approaching the grieving process are a reminder that everyone must grieve in his own way and that death teaches us all something incredibly powerful about what we should do with our lives, however long they last. Best for kids and families who appreciate quirky humor, offbeat jokes, and existential dilemmas.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Chasing Ghosts show grieving. Do you think it's accurate?

  • Do you believe in ghosts or the afterlife? Why, or why not?

  • What can Chasing Ghosts help us understand about grieving and moving on from loss?

Movie details

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