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Cop Car

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Cop Car Movie Poster Image
Inventive, minimalistic thriller has some bloody twists.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The main messages are simple (and cautionary): Don't run away from home, don't take what doesn't belong to you, and don't leave your keys in your car.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No worthy role models here; the key characters are a couple of misbehaving kids, a crooked cop, and a bad guy. Only a good Samaritan character has a conscience, but her good deed doesn't go unpunished.


A bloody shootout with blood sprays and dead bodies. A boy is shot in the stomach. A character is covered in blood. Kids are threatened and in danger. Kids handle guns.


"F--k" and "s--t" are used several times. Two young boys practice their swear words: "f--k," "s--t," "s--thead," "bitch," "p---y," "boobs," "wiener," "damn," "goddamn," "ass," "a--hole," "assface," "crap."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult character frantically flushes a bag full of cocaine down his toilet and snorts a handful. He also drinks a beer and smokes a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cop Car is a low-budget thriller starring Kevin Bacon that has some interesting ideas. It also has quite a bit of bloody violence, much involving kids -- they handle guns and threatened and in danger, and one is shot in the stomach. A shootout involving adults includes blood spurts, bloody wounds, and killing. Language is also strong, with kids saying at least half of the salty stuff; "s--t" is at the forefront, with "f--k" not far behind. An adult character is shown flushing a big bag of cocaine down his toilet and snorting a handful; he also drinks a beer and smokes a cigarette. But sex and consumerism aren't issues, and older teens with strong stomachs may enjoy discovering this stylish gem.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymaggie123 August 14, 2015

Waste of Money

I love Kevin Bacon. Why did he choose to be in this movie? Worst. Movie. Ever. Movie drags on pointless details, scenes of staring at a fish tank, not a scary... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebo344 August 20, 2015

Don't mess with the mustache.

With tremendous performances, mainly from Kevin Bacon and an excellent ending/cliffhanger, Cop Car is an atmospheric, intense thriller. Grade: A. It also has be... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byZackDaMan August 15, 2015

Violent and Thrilling Fun!

Cop Car is a perfect mix of comedy, action, and drama! Common Sense Media's review covers most of the parental concerns, so no need for me go into detail a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Two Midwestern boys, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), run away from home, practicing curse words and poking at snake holes. They come across a seemingly abandoned cop car and, after playing around, decide to take it. That's bad news for crooked Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), who's just returned from dumping a body in the woods. As the boys have fun on their joy ride, the sheriff tries to get his car back, desperately stooping to trickery and robbery to do it. Because he's definitely got something to hide ... and the arrival of a good Samaritan (Camryn Manheim) only complicates matters.

Is it any good?

Directed and co-written by Jon Watts, this deceptively simple, low-budget thriller delivers its extremely satisfying suspense through minimal characters, wide-open spaces, and poker-faced patience. The minimalistic COP CAR gleefully revels in details, like Kretzer spending long minutes breaking into a car with his shoelace, or the kids nail-bitingly testing out a bullet-proof vest.

Watts creates additional suspense by crossing shots of wide, empty country landscapes dotted with landmarks (a barbed-wire fence, a snake-hole, etc.) with more intimate close-ups; Bacon is especially good here, feverish and furious in his pointy mustache and dark glasses. The spare use of music, and, toward the end, an incredible use of light (in the dark, the kids turn on the siren but can't find the headlights), make this an inventive joy ride well worth seeing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Cop Car's violence. Is it used to shock or to generate suspense? How does it achieve these things? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does it feel seeing two boys involved in this story? Do they feel like they're in danger? What do they learn from their "adventure"?

  • How are drinking, smoking, and drug use depicted? What's their effect -- are their consequences for substance use? Are they glamorized, or do they serve some other purpose?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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