A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greatland is a satirical sci-fi adventure. It centers on Ulysses (Arman Darbo), a young boy who lives in a dystopian place called Greatland, where people are controlled by Mother, a computer program that brainwashes citizens into believing that Greatland is the most inclusive, fun-loving place on Earth. Ulysses rebels when his friend is kidnapped and her father is killed by the town's police. Violence is the biggest issue, with someone getting shot in the eye and later beaten to death. Other characters are also killed, and there's a graphic video with a violent childbirth. A character bathes in a bathtub full of blood. You can also expect infrequent swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more) and brief scenes with alcohol. The film gives viewers lots to think about in terms of Ulysses' courage to stand up against the status quo and the idea of conformity versus individuality, as well as what it means to be "woke." But the film's messages get somewhat lost in its strange, disturbing imagery and meandering storyline.
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What's the story?
GREATLAND follows the path of a boy named Ulysses (Arman Darbo), who starts questioning what his dystopian town and its computer overlord, Mother, tells him. After running away from Greatland to save his friend Ugly Duck (Chloe Ray Warmoth), Ulysses discovers his true origins, as well as the dark truth behind the people running Greatland. Together with Ugly Duck and his father, the Clerk (Nick Moran), Ulysses manages to change Greatland once and for all.
Is it any good?
Directed by Dana Ziyasheva, Greatland brings viewers into a candy-coated world of inclusivity and acceptance. But not everything is as it seems, because under the veneer of togetherness is a society bent on conformity and weaponizing love. Unfortunately, the film is confusing and conflicting: It seems to want to both promote inclusive imagery and denigrate it at the same time. It appears to be trying to suggest that conformity, even regarding positive attributes, is bad for humanity, but it doesn't make that point succinctly enough. Instead, the point gets lost in simply trying to figure out the world Greatland is trying to build.
With so many different titles for people -- including Optimists, Altruists, Clerks, and Philanthropists -- it's hard to know what title carries what meaning. Any satirical punches are hidden under other aspects of Greatland that grab viewers' attention, such as people marrying inanimate objects, Ulysses getting a rabbit as a son, and Ugly Duck's father, who was turned invisible because he decided to conceive Ugly Duck through sexual intercourse, which is seen as taboo in Greatland. The sheer number of colors and the strangeness that make up Greatland are bound to give you a headache, but you will finish watching with tons to think about. The only concern is whether the film did a good job of explaining itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be inclusive in daily life. Why is it important to respect and accept others?
Why is it important to question the leadership of people in power?
How do you develop courage to speak out for issues you believe in?
What messages do you think the film promotes?
How do you use your voice for issues that are important to you?
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