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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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?
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.