A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Flower is a dark comedy about a destructive teenage girl named Erica (Zoey Deutsch) that's far too mature for younger viewers. Unhealthy sexuality pervades the film, as does strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "bitch," and many others). Very serious sexual situations -- including both some involving consent and others that are predatory -- are discussed and/or shown, including pedophilia/rape and teen prostitution/sexual extortion. There's also a smattering of drugs (slipping someone a roofie), drinking, and violence. Mostly, it's a very dark comedy that doesn't try to impose morality on its characters' extremely iffy behavior -- but those characters might seem appealing to younger viewers because of their cleverness or other sympathetic traits. It's intelligent and funny and a well-made movie, just not at all for kids.
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What's the story?
In FLOWER, high school student Erica (Zoey Deutsch) gleefully runs a prostitution/extortion scam with her friends. When her mom, Laurie (Kathryn Hahn), and her mom's boyfriend, Bob (Tim Heidecker), introduce Erica to his anxiety-ridden son, Luke (Joey Morgan) -- who's straight out of rehab -- Erica initially dismisses him. But after learning the roots of some of his issues, this teenage wrecking ball decides to use her powers for good ... sort of. When she and her friends become a band of opportunistic vigilantes, the result may be far more serious than they imagined.
Is it any good?
Very well-written, acted, and directed, this dark comedy pulls off a difficult stunt: making a deeply objectionable character interesting enough to follow all the way along her messed-up journey. Flower is a suburban teen comedy set in the morally imbalanced universe of a Coen brothers film. When we meet Erica, she's performing a sex act on a middle-aged cop in order to extort him (with a little help from her friends). Erica sasses her soon-to-be-stepfather, idolizes her prison-languishing father, and shows no remorse for her iffy actions. When she meets her stepbrother-to-be, the beautiful girl immediately dismisses him because he's overweight and awkward. But when she finds out he may have been sexually abused by a male teacher, she mobilizes her pals into a vigilante squad. Her quest, however, takes her in unexpected directions, and she finds herself unsure of what to do -- perhaps for the first time ever. On balance, it's a comedy, but things get pretty dark.
The dialogue is sharp, dotted with both teen snark and confident idiocy. Erica persuades her friends to help catch Luke's assailant by blaming his obesity, anxiety, and suicide attempt on the alleged assault, saying if they don't stop the man, he'll attack others. ("Do you want that on your conscience?" "No," says her friend, solemnly, "I don't want anyone to be fat.") And when Erica wants to kiss a boy who knows of her activities, he says, "Your mouth has, like, 10,000 venereal diseases." The direction by Max Winkler (son of Henry) doesn't overplay the bad things; it lets us simply witness the slow-motion train wreck. Winkler allows space for nonverbal interactions -- the life between the lines. Casting director Rich Delia deserves kudos not just for landing the always-good Hahn (who's great here as a loving but worn-out mom) and Heidecker (quietly truthful), but also finding the lesser-known and hilarious Dylan Gelula and Maya Eshet to complete the dunderheaded teen vigilante set. Adam Scott's natural likability is perfect for the did-he-or-didn't-he possible molester; a highlight is his nerdy-bitchy debate about hip-hop with Erica. As Luke, Morgan is an effective cipher. He keeps us off-balance for most of the film. And in an audacious lead turn, Deutsch has the brass to go there. She's unafraid, which is what the part needs. Flower wraps up a bit too tidily, and its amoral universe definitely isn't for all moviegoers. But it's original, clever, funny, and ugly, making it -- perhaps -- a sunny noir?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how teen sexuality is usually depicted in films. Have you ever seen it depicted this way before? Does it seem realistic or extreme?
Is it important that a story's main character be morally upright? Do Erica's extreme actions in Flower allow you to root for or sympathize with her? Is there a hero or villain in this film?
What makes someone a role model? Are there any in this movie?
- In theaters: March 16, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: June 19, 2018
- Cast: Zoey Deutch, Joey Morgan, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker
- Director: Max Winkler
- Studio: The Orchard
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nude drawings, some drug content, and a brief violent image
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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