Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Hesher Movie Poster Image
Coming-of-age dramedy is too dark, edgy for kids.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Just about every character here indulges in unhealthy behavior, from doing drugs to stealing, lying, and destroying things. The outlook is mostly negative, though some of the characters appear to be trying, some of the time, to make things better.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hesher is the center of attention in this piece, and he's practically a poster boy for negative behavior. He's destructive with no consequences; he uses and abuses drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol; and he has a negative attitude toward women. He nearly snaps out of it when he befriends the grandmother character, but that doesn't last long. The main character is actually the 13-year-old boy, T.J., but even he goes through a long bad phase while dealing with his mother's death.


Hesher likes to trash places, blow things up, and set things on fire. He threatens a 13 year-old boy with a pair of clippers. The same teen also deals with a vicious bully at school. There's some fighting, and one character hits another with a metal bar. Viewers see some blood (a bloody nose). Most of the violence occurs in the presence of the 13-year-old.


The movie is packed with sexual innuendo and graphic sex talk. There's also a quick glimpse of a porn movie on a TV set, as well as porn magazines. In one scene, a man and a woman have sex, but it's mostly off camera (viewers can only see them around a door frame).


Very strong, constant language includes many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "c--k," "c--t," "p---y," "goddamn," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "ass," "d--k," "tw-t," "hell," "nut," and images of a raised middle finger.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hesher smokes cigarettes almost constantly. He also smokes pot, sniffs glue, and drinks beer to drunkenness. He shares some pot with Granny and teaches her how to use a bong. T.J.'s dad takes prescription pills for depression.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that HESHER is a very bleak, dark comedy/drama set in a grimy Southern California suburb, in some unspecified time near the present (there are no computers or cell phones on view). It deals with a grieving father and 13 year-old son after the death of the boy's mother. Into this family comes Hesher, a mysterious, long-haired metalhead with bad habits who eventually provides some perspective. The movie is filled with wall-to-wall foul language and graphic sexual innuendo (as well as some sexual images), and a somewhat negative attitude toward women. There is also some violence and general destruction, as well as cigarettes, beer-drinking, and pot-smoking. Nearly all of this occurs near or revolves around the 13 year-old. Parents should think twice before allowing any kids or teens to see this unsupervised.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove November 10, 2012

Booo - two thumbs down!

Disappointed. This movie was pointless! Not sure how anyone can enjoy this. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he is the main reason I watched it, but this story w... Continue reading
Adult Written byJRCrews20 June 21, 2012

Funny but offensive

Probably the most repulsive movie I have ever seen. Yet there were scenes that were really funny. I don't know if I want to watch it again in the near futu...
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheBombFunn July 4, 2013

Good,but certainly NOT for KIDS

Hesher is a good movie but not for kids. Its violent foul mouthed content make it not for kids. A 13 year old gets smoked in front of a nd violent content is pr... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 11, 2011

good movie

good movie and teaches kids that the world is cruel

What's the story?

After the death of his mother, 13-year-old T.J. (Devin Brochu) deals with his sadness and frustration by hurling a rock through a window of a construction site. This disturbs the squatter inside, Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who scares away the security guard by setting off a bomb. Not long after, Hesher moves into T.J.'s home, setting up residence with the boy's pill-popping father (Rainn Wilson) and doddering grandmother (Piper Laurie). Hesher proceeds with his old habits of listening to headbanger music, trashing things, setting things on fire, and watching porn. Meanwhile, T.J. befriends a poor, sad, waifish grocery clerk (Natalie Portman). Perhaps, hopefully, some of Hesher's influence will rub off in a good way.

Is it any good?

The movie boasts quite an astonishing performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In his feature directorial debut, Spencer Susser creates a deadpan, lost, grungy world -- the perfect place for a creature like Hesher to have evolved. At one point, Hesher tells a story about a mouse that's introduced into a snake's cage and survives. It's clear that this metaphor applies to Hesher himself, but he's still a mysterious, magnetic, repellent, and alluring figure, stomping around, defiant, shirtless, and shoeless, with his long, greasy hair swaying from side to side and crude tattoos on display.

In an ordinary movie, Hesher would eventually help the family through their grief, and they would help him become a better person, but this dark film doesn't go anyplace quite that obvious or comfortable. Yet the movie does have a point, and the T.J. character is so sweet and sad that he provides an emotional touchpoint for the viewer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hesher's behavior. What might cause him to smoke, drink, destroy things, talk about sex, and do other iffy things? Does he have a good side? What kind of role model is he?

  • What are the consequences of having 13-year-old T.J. be exposed to Hesher and his actions? What kind of effect does it have on him? How does he deal with his troubles? How does he deal with the bully at school?

  • What are the movie's messages? Are they clear amid the characters' behavior?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love quirky movies

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