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Kill Your Friends
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kill Your Friends is supposed to be a dark comedy about greedy, cynical corporate types in the music business, but it's more depressing than funny. It's most definitely not for kids; the violence, sex, language, drinking, and drug content are all extremely strong. There are bloody, brutal murders, toplessness, a threesome, and characters with multiple casual sex partners. Language includes near-constant use of "f--k," plus "c--t," "s--t," "t-ts," and many other words. Characters drink almost constantly, as well as smoke, snort cocaine, and sometimes go on other drug binges. Consequences are few, and no lessons are learned. This type of thing was done much better in American Psycho and The Wolf of Wall Street.
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What's the story?
In 1997, cynical A&R man Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is in the midst of a boom time for English pop music but stresses over what to do next. To sign a band might cost him his job -- but to miss the chance of signing the right band could have the same result. He tries to sign beloved indie group The Lazies but is also faced with the prospect of signing a Spice Girls-like act. At the same time, Steven wants a promotion at work but fears that his cocaine-addicted co-worker will get it. So Steven murders him. This brings about blackmail, and further changes at the office require Steven to commit more crimes. Will he find his perfect hit?
Is it any good?
Sometimes bad behavior can be entertaining, but in this cynical story of the music industry, it's simply depressing. There's no vicarious thrill, no exhilaration, only uninspired, unpunished meanness. It calls to mind The Wolf of Wall Street, which cooked up a frenetic, intoxicating pace, as well as American Psycho, which was genuinely alluring and shocking at the same time. But KILL YOUR FRIENDS is none of these things. It goes too far into cynicism but not far enough into titillation. It doesn't even feel like satire.
Hoult is a fine actor, and he does what he can here, but Steven is just reprehensible enough to push viewers away. He's not funny, his crimes have no set-up and no payoff, and his activities in the music business mean nothing; he's not particularly excited or repelled by any kind of music, and not even the soundtrack with hits of the day (Blur, The Prodigy, Oasis, Radiohead, etc.) can help. In fact, it almost makes you want to never listen to music again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Kill Your Friends' bloody violence. What effect does it have? Do different types of violence have a different impact on viewers?
What role does sex play in the movie? What does it mean to the characters? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Is this movie a satire? If so, what is it satirizing? Does it work?