A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even though it's about teens, Hot Summer Nights isn't intended for kids. This '90s-set romantic-dramatic thriller stars Timothée Chalamet as a teen who moves to a summer resort town and joins a local bad-boy small-time weed-dealing operation. Expect lots of drug use among teens (plus drinking and smoking), a burst of bloody violence (as well as an offscreen fatal shooting and evidence of a suicide), and constant strong language (especially "f--k"). The drug trade is glamorized, and no real lessons are learned. While there's no graphic nudity or sex, there's definitely acknowledgment of teen sexuality (teen characters are shown snuggling after sex), and one character plays piano wearing only her underpants.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the '90s-set HOT SUMMER NIGHTS, Daniel (Timothée Chalamet) moves to a Massachusetts resort town and joins local bad boy Hunter's (Alex Roe) small-time weed-dealing operation. At the same time, Daniel meets and falls for Hunter's off-limits sister, McKayla (Maika Monroe). Daniel's ambition pushes the business up and over the boys' heads, leading to unexpected challenges.
Is it any good?
The nostalgic elements and well-captured moments of teen romance are memorable, but this dramatic thriller ultimately feels poorly motivated and doesn't arrive at a satisfying destination. That said, Hot Summer Nights does benefit from fine casting. Chalamet is a rising star; here, he's awkward and too smart for his own good. Monroe is an intriguing screen presence, and the dependable William Fichtner -- in a small role as a higher-level drug dealer -- is unpredictable and menacing. But the true find here is Roe, who commands the screen as Hunter. Fans of MTV's The Challenge will note a resemblance to that reality show's "character" CT that enhances Roe's portrayal of a similar Boston-ish bruiser.
Elijah Bynum directs from his own script, which does boast some engaging dialogue and character detail. But despite a fatalistic voice-over, we're not drawn into the dramatic vortex; it seems inevitable that Daniel's ambition will be the undoing of all ... but only because we're told it is. His dishonesty and foolishness hold us at arm's length from the emotional experience. Thematically, the film takes a stab at myth-making -- and stylistically at noir -- but neither lands convincingly. Hot Summer Nights has some nice, visceral moments, as when McKayla unexpectedly shares Daniel's lollypop or when Hunter reveals just how formidable a physical force he really is, but it mostly feels like a ride on a track whose destination everybody knows.
Talk to your kids about ...
What was your impression of Daniel? He was smart. He was a liar. He cared about Hunter and McKayla. He deceived them extensively. Did he help anyone? Did he hurt anyone?
How did you respond to the movie's dialogue? Was it interesting, realistic? Was it better or worse than what you've heard in other crime dramas?
- In theaters: July 27, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2018
- Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Thomas Jane, William Fichtner
- Director: Elijah Bynum
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: drug content and language throughout, sexual references, and some strong violence
- Last updated: April 12, 2020
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