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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie meditates on bullying, on some more subtle aspects of discrimination, ostracizing. Questions why teens (and some adults) are quick to push away/hate people whose sexuality is slightly outside narrow range some consider acceptable. Discourages evaluating sexual orientation with pre-existing labels. Thoughtful and definitely discussion worthy. That said, quite a lot of iffy behavior here, too.
Positive Role Models
While teen characters are three-dimensional, they can't really be considered role models. They suffer and struggle, they make iffy choices (drinking, smoking pot, sex, fighting etc.), they sometimes make mistakes, but in the end they do find their strength to endure.
Violence & Scariness
Teen boys fight in more than one scene. Punching, slamming head on pavement. Bloody nose. Bullying. Throwing drinks at bullies in a parking lot. Flare gun (fired into the air). Arguing. Spoken story of a teen girl being "roofied" and sexually assaulted.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual encounters between teens (both same-sex and opposite-sex pairs), plus teens in sexual situations. Frequent, strong sex talk and innuendo. Kissing. Condoms shown. A teen boy boasts of "doing it six times" in a night. A teen girl, who may or may not identify as transgender, asks to see and touch her friend's penis. Teen girls are objectified ("fine rack"). Shirtless males in shower. Sexual gestures.
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Extremely strong language, with tons of uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "c--k," "a--hole," "bitch," "d--k," "f--got," "ho," "damn," "badass," "moron," "douche bag," "shut up," and "Jesus." Middle-finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens regularly drink and use drugs. Teens described as "wasted." Story about teen girl "hallucinating on 'shrooms."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Giant Little Ones is a nuanced indie drama that largely focuses on teen sexuality. It encourages thoughtful discussion about sexual identity and sex-related labels, but it's also full of mature content. Teens are shown in non-explicit sexual situations: A boy and girl have sex, there's a sexual encounter between two boys, and characters frequently talk about sex in graphic ways. Language is also very strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "f--got," and more. There are scenes of bullying and fighting, with a character's face being ground into the concrete, bloody wounds, angry arguing, and a story of a teen girl getting "roofied" and sexually assaulted. Teens drink and smoke a lot and are described as "wasted" and "so high." A character tells a story about "hallucinating on 'shrooms." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Wise and clear-eyed, this excellent teen drama is far better constructed and more nuanced than the usual coming-out story. It skips simplistic labels in favor of a focus on the actual state of being human. Written and directed by Keith Behrman, Giant Little Ones builds a solid base with its characters, each of whom has complex, conflicting emotions, including the so-called bad guys and -- amazingly -- the adults, too. So many other teen movies lazily paint adults as ridiculous in order to direct more sympathy to the younger characters, but there's much to be learned from MacLachlan's superb performance as Ray and Maria Bello as Franky's loving but somewhat clueless mom.
Even Mann's Ballas is understandable, lashing out with rage and fear to feelings he doesn't understand -- or think he wants. Hickson is also powerfully sympathetic, lucidly explaining her personal tragedy, analyzing it, and comfortably deciding what it is that she needs going forward. Especially lovable is Mouse (Niamh Wilson), who potentially identifies as transgender and gives Franky truthful advice about "owning it." But Wiggins carries most scenes with his gentle performance as Franky, holding feelings inside but at the same time allowing them to be known. Giant Little Ones may not be a full-fledged story about what it means to be gay, but its focus on understanding is perhaps just as important.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.