A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ingrid Goes West is a dramedy that revolves around an unstable woman (Aubrey Plaza) who stalks other women she "meets" on social media. The movie offers timely messages about social media, including "friending"/"following" someone vs. being or having a real friend, the reality of online personas, and other topics that will resonate with viewers in their teens and 20s. But there's also plenty of iffy stuff. In an extended superhero role-playing sexual scene, a woman begs a man to "f--k" her over and over, and several scenes show characters snorting cocaine and smoking cigarettes. There are also moments of sudden and startling violence and upsetting content, including a kidnapping in which a man is threatened with a gun and bludgeoned with a tire iron, a wedding party gone awry when the bride is pepper-sprayed in the face, and a suicide attempt (with pills). Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and more. All of that said, if your kids are teens/young adults who can handle the mature content, this is worthy watch-together fare, with many potential conversation starters.
What's the story?
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) doesn't have a lot going on in her life, so she prefers to look in on the lives of others, feverishly consuming social media every hour she's awake. But when things go sour with a social media "friend," Ingrid's old life is shattered, and she needs a new focus. She finds it in Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen), an appealing social media lifestyle celeb with lots of followers. Hoping to get closer to Taylor, INGRID GOES WEST to make her new home in Southern California, settling into an apartment owned by Dan (O'Shea Jackson Jr.). Taylor wasn't expecting Ingrid. She wasn't expecting anything at all. But when Ingrid sets her sights on something, Taylor -- and everyone else she knows -- quickly learn that it's not so easy to refuse her.
Is it any good?
By turns nail-biting and bitterly funny, this cautionary tale about a social media stalker and her prey will ring true to digital natives who fall asleep holding their phones. In fact, Ingrid Goes West's early scenes of a blank-faced Ingrid scrolling and liking, scrolling and liking, while she simultaneously brushes her teeth, uses the toilet, and, yes, falls asleep, may make some viewers a little uncomfortable. And while most people likely won't make Ingrid's mistake of assuming that a friendly comment on one of her photos means she's actually made a new friend, social media addicts (and who among us isn't at least a little addicted?) will recognize her all-consuming hunger for recognition and validation.
Ingrid is lonely. Ingrid is desperate. But you wouldn't know it from her social media feed, which transmits only shiny, staged photos of the perfect cauliflower samosa, or a "that'll impress 'em!" book propped ever so casually on a table. Still, Ingrid presumes that Taylor, glimpsed only through her own Coachella-chic posts, must have somehow found the secret to living blissfully. What separates this movie from other darkly comic stalker thrillers is that the audience is allowed to see that not only is Ingrid unbalanced, but Taylor is a great big phony, propping up a problematic life by performing for her followers. Ingrid's quest for connection is futile, true, but Taylor's curated persona is empty, her stardom and self-worth illusive. The final, satisfying irony? Ingrid never sees the light. The movie ends as it begins: scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Always looking for the next thing to "like." Because it just has to be better than what's going on in real life right now.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's the best way for teens to stay safe online? When should families start to talk about online responsibility? Does Ingrid make a mistake in conflating "likes" with someone actually liking her or wanting to be her friend? Does having a lot of followers mean you have a lot of friends?
Can people really be addicted to technology?
- In theaters: August 11, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: November 7, 2017
- Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
- Director: Matt Spicer
- Studio: Neon
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, drug use, some sexual content and disturbing behavior
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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