A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Three teens form a strong friendship that clearly makes a difference in their lives, though they don't always treat each other perfectly. The movie also suggests that when you're given a special talent or gift, it's important to treasure it and use it wisely; the story serves as a warning against the potentially corrupting influence of immense power.
Positive Role Models
Matt and Steve are clearly responsible, sensible teens who care for others, and even the troubled Andrew starts out as someone who's trying hard not to emulate his abusive father. That said, he struggles with this challenge.
Violence & Scariness
Plentiful and sometimes quite brutal. Andrew's father hits him (with his fists) at the slightest provocation; he also says very hateful things that demean and hurt Andrew. When the three teens use their new powers, there's plenty mayhem (people are tossed and battered, cars are thrown, buildings explode) and destruction (blasts, explosions, etc.). Some scenes linger on the bloody aftermath of fights, and some characters die because of these face-offs. A teen is bullied at his high school; his camera is yanked away and tossed to the ground. A classmate tries to strangle him. Later, he gets his revenge.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen couples kiss; one scene shows a bungled sexual encounter. No outright nudity, but major hints at what has taken place. A teen boy is shown pulling up his pants and buckling his belt. Discussions about virginity (having lost it already, wanting to lose it).
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Pretty frequent use of words including "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "crap," "prick," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "p---y," "oh my God," and more.
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Products & Purchases
Labels/brands include Canon cameras, Pepsi cans, and Centrum vitamins.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen drinking at parties (they hold tell-tale red cups in their hands); some drink to inebriation.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Chronicle is an action thriller about three teens who happen upon a strange discovery and, soon after, develop telekinesis and other powers. There's plenty of over-the-top violence (including deaths, the bloody aftermath of fights, explosions, and other mayhem), and the movie also deals with heavy themes -- chronic illness, abuse, rage, family dysfunction, financial distress, and more -- which makes it too intense for younger viewers. Still, it's surprisingly heartfelt, and it captures well the dynamics of teenage male friendships (especially the way they talk). Some scenes portray underage drinking (to the point of drunkenness), and there's also swearing, sexual innuendo, and implied sexual encounters. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Arguably, CHRONICLE's biggest triumph is how it authentically captures the nature of teenage male friendships -- their give and take, what makes them tick. This is what really makes the first half of this fascinating movie, which is part of the same "found-footage" genre as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, succeed (though that conceit seems unnecessarily gimmicky in this case). Watching the three stars is like getting invited into their fraternity. All three actors share a believable rapport; what motivates and intrigues them is what we imagine fascinates high school seniors on the brink of great change in their lives.
The main storyline is also a good hook: What would happen if random teenagers were suddenly equipped with superhero/comic book abilities? It makes so much sense that they'd waste it on a parking lot prank (a hilarious scene), or by tossing a football at warp speed among the clouds. And it also makes so much sense that things would go awry in a hurry. (To quote another superhero: With great power comes great responsibility.) Can teenagers really be expected to act responsibly, especially when they're sitting on a tinderbox of rage? Sadly, it's when this tinderbox ignites that the film loses its focus. Chronicle's last third feels like a rush to tie up loose ends, with a moral lesson to boot. The movie poses an interesting question, but the answer it comes up with is half-baked.
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.