A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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.
- In theaters: February 27, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2015
- Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack
- Director: David Cronenberg
- Studio: eOne Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong disturbing violence and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some drug material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.