Parents' Guide to

How to Build a Girl

By Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Edgy coming-of-age comedy has mature content, sex, language.

Movie R 2020 102 minutes
How to Build a Girl Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Transporting you back to the 1990s, this movie brings to life the monotony of the teenage experience in vast contrast to the excesses of a thriving music scene. How to Build a Girl is adapted from British writer Caitlin Moran's bestselling novel based on her own experiences as a young music journalist. It's quirky, with director Coky Giedroyc adding some fun visual touches, such as the icons on Johanna's wall -- including Sylvia Plath, Julie Andrews, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx -- coming to life to converse with the troubled teen. These enable fabulous cameo appearances from the likes of Michael Sheen and Gemma Arterton, while Emma Thompson plays Johanna's editor, Amanda.

Though her experience is extraordinary, the character of Johanna is relatable, if a little one-dimensional. American Feldstein doesn't do badly with the British regional accent. But she doesn't quite breathe the life into the character that she's managed in previous films -- notably Booksmart. However, How to Build a Girl is raw and funny in places, and the audience remains on Johanna's side, even as she turns to the dark one herself. Overall, this is a light but heartfelt coming-of-age comedy that teens will both relate to and, in some places -- possibly the wrong ones -- aspire to.

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