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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kin is a sometimes violent road movie/action thriller with sci-fi elements and messages about family ties, honor, courage, and cooperation. It follows an adopted teen (Myles Truitt) and his older, ex-con brother (Jack Reynor), who are crossing the country with bad guys on their tail and a mysterious weapon in their possession. Expect occasional bursts of violence, including some beatings and shoot-outs. It's largely bloodless, though there's a siege-style scene and lots of peril for the teen; the violent scenes have real emotional weight, which can make them feel more intense. Expect strong language throughout, especially "s--t," with single uses of words including "f---ing." Adult characters drink, and strip club scenes include scantily clad women; one main character is an exotic dancer. Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, and Dennis Quaid co-star.
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What's the story?
In KIN, troubled 14-year-old adoptee Eli (Myles Truitt) comes across a futuristic device in an abandoned building. His older, ex-con brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), suddenly takes Eli on a cross-country road trip without telling him about bad things that have just happened -- or the danger they're in. As the brothers bond and are joined by an exotic dancer named Milly (Zoë Kravitz), bad guys (led by James Franco) pursue them, and Eli learns to use the mysterious device.
Is it any good?
This is a genre-blending, expectation-defying brother-bonding road movie/action thriller with sci-fi elements -- and it all works somehow. Kin, the promising feature debut from brothers/directors Jonathan and Josh Baker (based on their short, Bag Man) feels like a low-key indie about a struggling kid and his screw-up brother finally getting to know each other amid some pretty scary peril. Then there's this otherworldly weapon thrown into the mix, and we're in sort of Stranger Things territory (producer Shawn Levy is also an executive producer on that show). A lot could go wrong, especially with a newcomer in the lead, but the Bakers' grounded direction and the strong performances make it an unusual, fun experience. The indie sensibility includes effectively creating atmosphere and tension without relying on visual effects or rapid cutting. There are no startle attempts, and no one jumps out of cupboards. The few action sequences are much more effective than most because we're immersed in the brothers' reality.
Truitt and rising star Reynor (Sing Street) make a natural pair. Reynor's sly, lovable-loser charm shines as a character who makes some very bad decisions. All of the main characters are flawed but somehow form a believable familial bond anyway. The slam-bang finale is well staged and exciting, spinning the story forward intriguingly. Kin may disappoint those looking for a sci-fi thrill ride, but its focus on characters and relationships makes its action and story all the more effective. Unlike so many failed, cynical-feeling attempts at franchise starters out there, Kin actually deserves a sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
What would you say the movie's underlying themes are? How is the title significant? What role does courage play in the story?
Which characters do you consider role models? Why?
- In theaters: August 31, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2018
- Cast: Jack Reynor, James Franco, Zoe Kravitz, Myles Truitt
- Directors: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking
- Last updated: January 25, 2021
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