A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Detour is a mature, violent crime thriller that plays around with timelines. There's fighting, stabbing, and killing (some blood); a dead body; and scenes with guns. A man hits a woman, and she hits him back. On the sex front, a man is shown watching porn on his computer (the video shows a woman's naked behind and a man thrusting) and masturbating. One of the main characters is a prostitute, and women are shown topless and in skimpy outfits. Language is extremely strong with constant use of "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "c--k," "p---y," "a--hole," and much more. A college-age student boasts about an intense acid trip, and another gets very drunk in a bar, with consequences. Another character snorts cocaine, and there are references to marijuana, as well as smoking and more social drinking.
What's the story?
In DETOUR, young law student Harper (Tye Sheridan) is going through a tough time. His mother is in a coma and isn't expected to live long, and his stepfather doesn't seem too concerned about her, flitting off for so-called "business trips" to Las Vegas. Drunk in a bar one night, Harper crosses paths with hoodlum Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen) and wonders what it would take to eliminate his stepfather for good. The next day, Johnny Ray and prostitute Cherry (Bel Powley) show up, ready to do the job in exchange for $20,000. From there, the story diverges into two possible paths. But it's only a matter of time before the timeline detour collides with Harper's ultimate destiny.
Is it any good?
Hardly the first crime movie to play around with timelines (and not always successful at doing so), this thriller gets away with it due to intriguing characters, a snappy pace, and a few surprises. Written and directed by Christopher Smith (Severance, Get Santa), Detour pulls a couple of dirty little tricks that fool the audience, not necessarily in a good way, and it's sometimes confusing. Viewers will have to go back and think twice about what they've seen to make sense of it. Yet the movie is good-natured and colorful and somehow manages to avoid looking and sounding like yet another a fifth-rate Quentin Tarantino rip-off.
Instead, Detour pays tribute to classic movies, especially to another movie called Detour -- from 1946 -- which Harper watches in one scene. And the name "Harper" comes from a 1966 Paul Newman movie (Sheridan's character has a poster from it in his room). Plus, Smith casts his actors cleverly; Sheridan (The Tree of Life, Mud) is a decent everyman, and Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) brings smarts to her character, while Cohen (Brooklyn) is captivatingly volatile. All in all, it's a relatively minor thriller, but has enough surprises and interesting characters to be enjoyable.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the movie handle sex? Are women objectified? Is sex portrayed as romantic or otherwise? What message does that send?
How did you feel about the movie's alternative timeline?
What's the appeal of movies about criminals?
- In theaters: January 20, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 25, 2017
- Cast: Tye Sheridan, Bel Powley, Emory Cohen
- Director: Christopher Smith
- Studio: Magnet Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some strong violence, sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language throughout
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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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.
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