Coming Through the Rye

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Coming Through the Rye Movie Poster Image
Coming-of-age drama deals with heavy themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 95 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Overcoming tragedy is difficult and painful. Facing your feelings can be both wrenching and cathartic. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jamie demonstrates perseverance. He's determined to get his play made, no matter the obstacles in his path. Not even the opposition of famous author J.D. Salinger will dissuade him. 

Violence

Characters argue during heated moments. A boarding-school student is bullied by his classmates, including a late-night room invasion that starts when they throw lit firecrackers on his desk. 

Sex

Alone in a hotel room for the night, a teen couple awkwardly gets under the covers in their underwear. They kiss and seem to be planning to do more; they even have a brief discussion about birth control. But then the mood shifts abruptly, and nothing else happens.

Language

Occasional swearing, including "hell" and "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teenager gets drunk in a hotel bar and ends up throwing up for much of the night. The main character's older brother likes to smoke pot. 

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."

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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? 

  • Why is Jamie so determined to go forward with his play? How does he demonstrate perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?

  • How are drinking and drug use portrayed in the movie? Are there consequences? Why is that important?

  • 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? 

Movie details

Character Strengths

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