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Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened Movie Poster Image
Mature doc about outrageous scam is funny, sad, instructive.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Protect yourself against scam artists, false advertising, lure of internet marketing. Even smart, honest people can be fooled by skilled and/or delusional con artists, so beware. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many people involved, though duped themselves, were remorseful about their role in the fraud; some attempted to make amends. True culprit was amoral/100% free of conscience and launched a new "con" while awaiting trial.

Violence
Sex

Frank conversation about oral sex. Models in bikinis are extensively photographed as part of the scam operation.

Language

Very frequent profanity, including "s--t," "hell," pissed," and countless uses of "f--k."

Consumerism

Fiji water.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent drinking; some drunkenness. Cigar smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to  know that Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a documentary that details the events leading to the Fyre Festival, a 2017 music event that was over-hyped, sold out ... and a complete fraud. Thousands of wealthy young people traveled to an island in the Bahamas for a weekend that was heavily marketed as a "luxury" trip of partying and music, only to find that it was a gigantic disaster perpetrated by a corrupt "entrepreneur" with a big smile and an endless supply of audacity. Expect multiple scenes and videos showing models (and some celebrities) in revealing bikinis. Profanity is frequent, including "s--t," "hell," and countless uses of "f--k." There's one frank conversation about oral sex, and people drink frequently (sometimes to excess) and smoke cigars.

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What's the story?

In FYRE: THE GREATEAT PARTY THAT NEVER HAPPENED, it's 2016, and entrepreneur-on-the-rise Billy McFarland has secured the partnership of rap star Ja Rule in his efforts to create an app that will be the ultimate booking service: a one-stop site to schedule big stars for every occasion. To launch the app, McFarland envisions the biggest, most luxurious music festival of all time. To promote the Fyre Festival, he brings a dozen of the world's most famous models to the Bahamas to film a video of beauty, partying, and luxury that will go viral. He makes deals with celebrities to lend their names to "influence" his wealthy, would-be attendees. He promises luxury accommodations, first-tier entertainment, first-class food, and unending fun. Within 48 hours of the beginning of the social media hype, the event is 95% sold out -- with some packages topping $250,000. There's just one problem: It's not going to happen. What follows is a series of small calamities as a site is secured and plans are futilely attempted. Each daily disaster will ultimately culminate in the event itself, which is a failure of massive proportions. Throughout the film, director Chris Smith interviews the mostly sincere folks who tried to deliver what McFarland had promised. For each of them, including unpaid Bahamian workers, it was a financial fiasco and a commitment unfulfilled.

Is it any good?

Smith and his crew successfully capture the often hilarious, often shocking, and sometimes sad outcomes associated with this mega-disaster of a non-event. Smith's interviews in Fyre: The Greatest Party That  Never Happened are compelling, insightful, and rigorous. In particular, staff members Andy Hill and Marc Weinstein offer unexpectedly open, personal recollections. It all happened recently, and it's more powerful for that immediacy. Viewers who may laugh loud and long at the "trials and tribulations" of the very rich people who were the marks of such an outrageous con man will certainly feel the poignancy of the many who were swindled out of time and money. And the outcomes for the idealistic, high-achieving staffers in New York City who worked diligently for more than a year on a website that had promise are particularly touching. As for McFarland? Who could imagine a delusional narcissist of such humongous nerve could fool so many?  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the intentions of documentary filmmaking: to inform, to entertain, to inspire, or to persuade. Which category (or categories) does Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened fit into? What's your takeaway from the movie? 

  • Do you think social media/the internet should bear significant responsibility for the disaster? How was McFarland's scam made possible by free hype and advertising he was able to use? Were you aware of the term "influencer"? Why is it important to be aware of paid influencers' participation on social media?

  • Who is adversely affected by the misbehavior of Billy McFarland? Where do filmmaker Chris Smith's sympathies lie? 

  • What is meant by the term "a cautionary tale"? In what way(s) is this movie a cautionary tale? Think about how awareness and common sense can protect you from such scams.

Movie details

For kids who love true stories

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