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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of grief, loss, and feeling intense pressure due to college applications, but these overwhelming feelings are dealt with in an unhealthy manner. Intent is to show how easy it can be to take out your frustrations through cruel, anonymous actions on social media -- and that those choices are deeply hurtful and affect lives. But lack of consequences may dilute that message. Story implies that an affluent upbringing comes with high expectations.
Positive Role Models
Smart, aspirational high school seniors participate in a competitive debate club and strive for good grades. But central characters engage in negative behavior. Stereotypical conflict involving two teen girls interested in the same boy.
Main characters are a tight-knit group of racially diverse, affluent high school friends. A Black authority figure (a teacher) is portrayed as kind, caring, supportive. Female-heavy production team, including writer-director, cinematographer, and producers.
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Violence & Scariness
Drowning. Plot put into motion by a teen's death via suicide, which is presented without sensationalism. Physical fighting. Cyberbullying and mean behavior from the empathetic point of view of the perpetrator. Overdose. References to unwanted advances and an inappropriate relationship.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Strong language includes "s--t" and "f--k." The term "hard-on" is used to explain extreme interest in something.
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Products & Purchases
Teens come from affluent families, have nice cars, and attend what appears to be a pricey private school.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens take MDMA (Ecstasy) with mixed results. Underage drinking. Minors attend a fraternity party with a fully stocked open bar. Teens bond while drinking wine. Reference to a teen with a drug problem. Character's drink is drugged.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jane is a well-made but problematic teen thriller about cyberbullying, told from the perpetrator's point of view. Viewers meet high school senior Olivia (Madelaine Petsch, who also produces) after the death via suicide of her best friend, Jane (Chloe Yu). As "Liv" tries to manage her grief and gain control of her life, she starts cyberbullying others. The film's intent is to show how easy it can be to take out your frustrations through cruel, anonymous actions on social media -- and that those choices are deeply hurtful and affect lives. But (spoiler alert!) there aren't meaningful consequences, which could dilute the message. The main characters are a smart, diverse, affluent group of teens. They can be seen as aspirational, but they make iffy choices, including drinking, going to a fraternity party, and taking drugs (MDMA). There's swearing ("s--t," "f--k," etc.), and violent scenes include drowning, overdosing, and the the initiation of a death by suicide. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Cyberbullying is unfortunately all too familiar to teens, and while writer-director Sabrina Jaglom's dark approach is likely to connect, it's unlikely to dissuade. The story revolves around issues that grip the lives of many high school seniors: the pressure of college applications, anxiety about the future, managing social demands, and even grieving the death of a classmate. Ambitious Olivia is a mild-mannered girl who, having lost her best friend at the start of senior year, can't let her dream of attending Stanford -- the university she and Jane dreamed of attending together -- out of her grasp. Desperately needing a friend, she reconnects with the former bestie who had left her and Jane behind when she rose up the popularity chain.
There's a soapy feel here, like a storyline that might have popped up in Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, but darker. But in movies, more so than TV series, we've come to expect and appreciate neat messaging -- and that doesn't exist here. Jane is the earnest cousin of wicked satires like Heathers and Tragedy Girls. And teen viewers will recognize Olivia's actions as wrong and harmful, but because this isn't satire, it's not funny. Still, Olivia is such an unlikely candidate to perpetrate cyberbullying that the story is as unpredictable as a college acceptance letter -- and that's likely to keep teens enthralled.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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