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Hell & Back
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hell & Back may be a stop-motion animated movie, but it's definitely not for kids. Characters swear a blue streak ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), and there are nonstop sexual references/innuendoes/jokes (as well as other bodily function humor). Attractive female characters are shown in skimpy clothing (with views up their skirts), and a very large female demon is seen naked. There's a little blood and some chase scenes, but the movie is more about verbal than the visual. Teens who see this will unfortunately learn about "whippets" -- i.e. sucking on a whipped-cream dispenser to get a nitrous high. There's also a highly addictive, fictitious drink called Devil's Brew and other drug references. And if all of that wasn't enough, it's not even the slightest bit funny.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Three friends work at a dilapidated amusement park that's on the verge of going out of business. Remy (voiced by Nick Swardson) finds an ancient book with images of a weeping devil, and he makes a blood pact with Curt (Rob Riggle) over a mint. When Curt breaks it, he's sucked into hell, and Remy and Augie (T.J. Miller) go in after him. A pretty half-demon, Deema (Mila Kunis), offers to help them find their friend if they'll help her find Orpheus (Danny McBride). Meanwhile, the devil (Bob Odenkirk) is having problems of his own, with a confusing bureaucracy and an unrequited crush on an angel (Susan Sarandon).
Is it any good?
It's a wonder how this stinker of a script -- packed with foul language, sex references, and scatological jokes -- attracted such a strong cast in the first place. And the finished film is no better. Presumably inspired by such filthy, funny features as South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) and Team America: World Police (2004), HELL & BACK desperately clings to swearing and bodily functions for its humor, and it emerges with not a single laugh.
The stop-motion animation is colorful and must have taken a great deal of work, but the result still looks rushed and cheap. The characters fall completely flat; no friendship or teamwork seems to exist between the "friends," and, really, it's hard to care much about any of these awful characters. (If anything, Odenkirk's devil is probably, ironically, the most appealing character.) Not even Miller whose voice work in Big Hero 6 and the How to Train Your Dragon movies is so lovable, can help here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hell & Back's sex humor/references? Does it represent sex in a positive light? What audience do you think the jokes are aimed at?
Are women objectified in this movie? Are there any worthy female role models?
Did you find the movie funny? What kind of humor does it use? What other kinds of humor are there? Which kind(s) do you prefer? Why?
This is an animated movie that's aimed at adults; why are animated movies generally considered to be for kids?
- In theaters: October 2, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2016
- Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Mila Kunis, Nick Swardson
- Directors: Tom Gianas, Ross Shuman
- Studio: Freestyle Releasing
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive strong crude and sexual content, language and some drug use
For kids who love comedy and animation
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.