A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Echo Boomers is a crime drama about a group of millennials who rob and vandalize the homes of the wealthy, both as a way to make money and as a statement. Guns are shown, and an elderly character is punched, tied up, and dragged. Another character overdoses and is driven to the hospital and shoved out of a car. There's also lots of vandalism, arguing, shouting, and general tension. The main characters drink a ton and do lots of cocaine and Ecstasy in nightclubs. Some characters smoke cigarettes. Language is very strong, with frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." There's also some sexual innuendo, both written and spoken. The movie wants to be a generational classic, but it just blandly borrows from other movies and winds up flat.
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What's the story?
In ECHO BOOMERS, art history major Lance (Patrick Schwarzenegger) is riddled with student debt and can't get much more than a minimum-wage job. His cousin Jack (Gilles Geary) summons him to Chicago with the promise of employment. Unfortunately, the job consists of breaking into the homes of the wealthy and stealing expensive things: Jack wants Lance to help identify the most valuable paintings. They also totally trash these places and then spend all their money partying. At first Lance balks, but he soon becomes intoxicated by the rage-against-the-system tenets of leader Ellis (Alex Pettyfer) and starts considering the other gang members -- Allie (Hayley Law), Stewart (Oliver Cooper), and Chandler (Jacob Alexander) -- like family. But things soon begin to fall apart as Jack plots a scheme of his own, and their contact man, Mel (Michael Shannon), loses faith in the team.
Is it any good?
This crime drama seems to want to tap into generational anxieties and provide an intoxicating release, but instead it plays like a pale, dull copy of many other movies, with blandly recycled themes. Echo Boomers -- the title refers to the millennial generation, who are often the children of baby boomers -- is structured with wraparound sequences, showing several of the gang members telling their stories from jail and Lance being interviewed by an author (Lesley Ann Warren). While this is supposed to give the movie an epic perspective, it only serves to thin the action, especially given the author's silly questions. Noisy, jackhammer editing also doesn't help.
When telling its story, Echo Boomers definitely tries to "echo" movies like Trainspotting, Fight Club, and Spring Breakers, but it lacks their ability to evoke total abandon and release. The scenes of destruction inside the expensive homes are effectively art-directed, and they can be somewhat mesmerizing, but the scenes showing the characters at work just feel routine. It probably doesn't help that the supposedly charismatic leader played by Pettyfer doesn't come anywhere close to anything like Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden; he mostly sulks and barks orders. That said, the screen does spark to life whenever Shannon turns up; his threatening, cunning Mel is truly terrifying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Echo Boomers' violence. How did it make you feel? How much is shown? How does the movie generate strong anxiety and tension without showing much overt violence?
What is a "millennial" or an "Echo Boomer"? How are they typically portrayed by the media? Does a movie like this speak to all of them? If you are one, does the movie speak to you?
Why does going to college leave so many people so deeply in debt? Can this system be changed? How?
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