A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Growing Up and Other Lies is an indie comedy that deals with fairly mature themes -- infidelity, existential crises -- that younger teens and under might not identify with. But older viewers may appreciate its exploration of friendship and adulthood. Expect strong language (including "f--k" and more), a bit of yelling/confrontation, scenes in which characters are drunk/smoke pot, and some kissing/ogling scenes. Mostly, though, viewers watch four friends hanging out with one another.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jake (Josh Lawson) is on the verge of leaving New York City, having been driven out by the vagaries of city living and the pressures of being an underemployed and unappreciated artist. Plus, he needs to care for a relative back home. To say goodbye to his beloved city, he and his three friends -- Rocks (Adam Brody), Billy (Danny Jacobs), and Gunderson (Wyatt Cenac) -- decide to walk from the top of Manhattan down to the bottom, making pit stops along the way to touch base on Jake's (and the group's) past.
Is it any good?
The walkabout premise is clever, especially in such a walkable, cinematic city as New York. So just for giving viewers a tour of some NYC gems (and not always the obvious ones -- shout out to Koronet Pizza in Morningside Heights!), GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES deserves some kudos. It's also a delight to hear the men talk; it's as if we're eavesdropping on real conversations that sometimes have no point or no closure.
But while the four leads share some rapport with each other (especially Brody and Jacobs), and their struggles are somewhat relatable (save for Lawson's failing artist bit, which smacks of cliche), the rest of the film doesn't impress. A pit-stop at the home of an ex-girlfriend (Amber Tamblyn) yields some interesting moments, but it also adds to the confusion: What is the movie saying? That life is confusing and no one knows how to be a grown-up? Say something we haven't heard before, why don't you?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Growing Up and Other Lies' messages. What is it saying about friendship? Adulthood? Who do you think it's intended to appeal to most? How can you tell?
Talk about the four main characters' friendship: Is it a strong one? Antagonistic? A little of both? Are their relationships and interactions realistic? How does this movie add to the buddy-comedy canon?
The city of New York is just as much a character in this film as the people. What role does it play in the movie?
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