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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Coming Through the Rye is a tender coming-of-age drama about a prep school student (Alex Wolff) in 1969. He's obsessed with the classic novel The Catcher in the Rye and sets off to find its reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, persevering in the face of many obstacles. The movie tackles both teenage angst and a terrible family tragedy, which leads to some heavy moments, as well as bullying among students. The main character also falls in love, so there are a few awkward love scenes, but they don't go very far (characters are shown in their underwear, but no nudity). The teen also gets pretty drunk at a hotel bar (and throws up afterward), and pot is mentioned. Expect occasional swearing, notably "a--hole" and "hell."
What's the story?
In COMING THROUGH THE RYE, it's 1969, and Jamie Schwartz (Alex Wolff) isn't exactly popular at his all-boys boarding school. And his obsession with The Catcher in the Rye isn't helping. He's determined to bring the story to the stage, but most of his classmates think he's kind of odd. To escape their scorn, he sets off to find the novel's author, J.D. Salinger (Chris Cooper). Jamie hopes to secure the blessing of the famous recluse. Along the way, he teams up with Deedee (Stefania Owen), a girl from the local school who eventually realizes that Jamie is really motivated by a family tragedy he's struggling to accept.
Is it any good?
This drama makes a mighty attempt to show the momentous importance that Salinger's iconic book has for many teenagers, but it does so with so much effort that it feels neither natural nor insightful. Instead, Coming Through the Rye broadcasts its intentions with too-obvious dialogue, with little of the subtlety that a coming-of-age movie needs to truly land a gut-punch. Plus, most of the story's issues that are particularly relevant to young audiences -- drug use, bullying -- are handled superficially.
Still, the cast is accomplished and winning, and the plot structure -- a journey to Salinger's home -- is interesting enough to entertain. But, sadly, the biggest reaction the movie might elicit is that most Salinger-esque one of all: restless boredom.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why The Catcher in the Rye speaks so deeply to Jamie in Coming Through the Rye. Is his response common for people his age? Have you read the book? If so, can you relate to Jamie's feelings?
How does the movie handle bullying? Is it realistic? Do you know anyone who's been in a similar situation? How was it resolved?
How do Jamie's feelings about his brother affect his relationships with his classmates? What do you think about his decisions?
- In theaters: October 14, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 27, 2016
- Cast: Alex Wolff, Chris Cooper, Stefania Owen
- Director: James Steven Sadwith
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Company
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some drug material, sexuality and language
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