Maps to the Stars

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Maps to the Stars Movie Poster Image
Dark send-up of Hollywood mixes wit with abuse, dysfunction.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's difficult to find any positive message here, but you could say one takeaway is that the truth will eventually come out.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The film is peopled with disturbed characters who damage each other in many ways, wittingly and unwittingly.

Violence

A sense of menace pervades the film. In one scene, a man physically his attacks his adult daughter (dragging, punching). Family kills family, and in one particularly gory scene, an employer is clubbed to death by an employee (blood sprays, the wound is shown, etc.). A woman burns to death. There's talk of a fire that was purposefully set, as well as of abuse and incest. A boy strangles a kid, and a teen shoots a dog by accident (dog's body is shown). Suicide attempt.

Sex

There's a threesome scene (two women and a man) in which naked breasts and a man's genitals are seen. A man and a woman are shown having sex in the backseat of a limo. No graphic nudity, but it's clear what they're doing. One character's nude backside is seen, and a woman gets a strange massage from a therapist in her underwear. References to sex throughout the movie, including a request for oral sex.

Language

Frequent use of extremely strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "c--t." A teen berates an adult using hateful speech.

Consumerism

Wealth is telegraphed through expensive clothing and objects. Brands/labels seen/mentioned include Maison du Chocolat, Nieman's, Whole Foods, Architecural Digest, American Spirit.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are shown drinking hard liquor, even around a 13-year-old peer who has just gotten out of rehab. Frequent drug use and talk of drugs, including GHB, Vicodin, Xanax, and Zoloft. Also some smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Maps to the Stars is a brooding, disturbing film from director David Cronenberg that deals with many dark, mature subjects, including incest, abuse, and other severe family dysfunction, making it too intense even for older teens. Some scenes are graphically violent and bloody, including one in which someone is clubbed to death and another in which an adult woman is dragged across the floor and punched by her father. A dog is shot by accident, and a teenager strangles a young boy. There's also nudity (breasts, glimpse of a man's genitals) and strong sexual content, including a threesome, sex in the back of a car, and lots of references to sex. Language is extremely strong, with "f--k," "s--t," and many more used frequently. Teens drink and use drugs; in facqt, one of the main characters is a teen who's fresh out of rehab and can't stay the course.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySalem P. August 3, 2016

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What's the story?

A limo driver (Robert Pattinson) picks up a fare, and MAPS TO THE STARS is set in motion. The passenger is Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a mysterious young woman with many visible burn scars; she name-drops a connection to Carrie Fisher and hints at a back story over a burnt lot. Meanwhile, a movie star battling the pressures of aging (Julianne Moore) craves a role her mother originated -- never mind that she has her own troubled history with her and her memory. And a young actor, Benjie (Evan Bird), is fresh out of rehab but can't manage his demons, some of which actually may be ghostly, and his mother (Olivia Williams) is as stagey and unstable as they come. Even his father (John Cusack), a self-help guru, appears to be skating on the edge of stability.

Is it any good?

David Cronenberg's film is as dark as they come, and the positives don't balance the odious parts of human nature he unearths with stylish detachment. Strong performances buoy MAPS TO THE STARS somewhat, particularly the dependably brilliant Moore, the revelatory Bird, and the powerhouse Wasikowska, who imbues a character who's frankly hard to embrace with some pathos and humanity.

Here's the rub: While the film serves up a witty and cutting examination of the spoils of fame and a celebrity-hungry Los Angeles, the dysfunctions it unearths are so extreme -- all of them -- as to seem alien. So alien that viewers may not care, nor have the patience to sift through the grit and doom.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of the violence in Maps to the Stars. Is it more or less upsetting than what you might see in a horror movie? Why do you think that is? Is all of it necessary to tell the story?

  • Why do you think most of the characters are so extreme in some form? What is the filmmaker trying to impart through these characters?

  • What role does sex play in the movie? Is it loving or something else? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

Movie details

For kids who love indie movies

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