A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Happy Death Day 2U is the horror-comedy sequel to Happy Death Day, about a serial killer and a time loop. Slasher movie-style violence includes killings, stabbing, shooting, and some blood (dribbles and spurts). The main character dies via suicide several times with no consequences, as she's always resurrected. Characters are chased and stalked, and there's screaming and struggling. Women wear cleavage-revealing outfits and skimpy underwear, and college students kiss passionately. A naked man wearing a towel is caught in a woman's dorm room (he has a line about a three-way). Language includes a couple uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," "ass," and more. There's a reference to a college girl being "wasted" and hung over, but nothing is shown. The storytelling is rather scattered, but it's still emotionally centered and quite entertaining for teens and up.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
In HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U, Tree (Jessica Rothe) has recently broken out of the time loop from Happy Death Day and is enjoying her new present. She's together with Carter (Israel Broussard) but still missing her mom. And unfortunately, Carter's roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu), seems to have entered his own time loop. The reason soon becomes clear: It's connected to Ryan's science experiment, a powerful quantum reactor, which also caused Tree's original loop. Desperate, Ryan fires up the machine again, and Tree finds herself back on her birthday. Only this time, things aren't exactly the same, and even the Babyface killer is different. This time loop appears to be in a different dimension. Tree must decide where her true heart lies and figure out how to stop the killer once again, all while helping Ryan find the right algorithm to get her back home.
Is it any good?
This sequel has fewer slasher-movie elements than the original and wanders all over the place, even into bad slapstick. But Rothe's extremely strong performance and the movie's vivid emotional center carry it through. Christopher Landon directs again and takes over the screenwriting this time, too; he seems to adopt the "what happens next?" method of storytelling, throwing Tree into one tough spot after another, with little regard to science or logic. It sometimes gets to be a little much, especially during an "algorithm memorizing" montage and a weird slapstick sequence in which Tree's sorority sister (Rachel Matthews) poses as a blind French woman to distract the dean (Steve Zissis) and steal his keys.
But, happily, Rothe tends to hold things together. She's more Meryl Streep than scream queen, amazingly aware of her range of emotions and possessing the skill to pull them off, especially in the uncharted territory of a time loop. Her scenes with her newly resurrected mother (remember, it's another dimension) are particularly moving. Happy Death Day 2U (great title) is no longer a real horror film, though it contains a few well-done stalker-y scenes; now it's more about relationships and humor than it is about being scared of a masked killer. And it's far from a cheap sequel; it deepens the themes of the first film. Its ultimate messages are about kindness, being unselfish, and taking a leap of faith into the future rather than hanging on to the past.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Happy Death Day 2U's violence. Is it designed to thrill or shock? What's the difference? Do the movie's comic tone and relative lack of on-screen blood lessen the impact of the violent moments?
How is sex depicted? Is sex equated with love? What values are imparted?
Does it make sense that Tree learns kindness from her ordeal? How does this happen? When is she tempted toward selfishness?
Does the movie glamorize suicide in any way or make it look cool? Does the fact that it has no consequences here lessen its impact?
How does this movie compare to the original? Does it seem like an honest extension of the story?
- In theaters: February 13, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2019
- Cast: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine
- Director: Christopher Landon
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements
- Last updated: July 29, 2020
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