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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Music can be a creative and emotional outlet for teens and a way to help find their identity.
Positive Role Models
Hunter avoids drugs and alcohol, preferring to channel all of his creativity and energy into being the leader of a "post-death doom metal" band. That said, he's also misogynistic about the very idea of women playing heavy metal, but develops a more enlightened perspective toward the end. Emily struggles with mental illness and finds, through music and her relationship with Kevin, an outlet for her frustrations with taking medication. Kevin also finds a sense of belonging and self-expression through learning how to play drums. Overall, though, the teen characters in the movie use strong language throughout, have sex, drink, smoke, bully other characters, get into fights with bullies, and get into trouble both in and out of school.
Movie makes a point to show that rocking out in bands isn't just something for boys. As the movie goes on, Emily's struggles with mental illness are presented in a thoughtful manner. The biggest fan of the band is a teen boy with a mental disability who is treated with compassion and friendship by Hunter. The high school students are almost all White; the administrator and teacher most often shown in the movie is a Black woman.
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Violence & Scariness
A bully knocks Kevin on the ground as he walks past him between classes, and the bully shoves Hunter into the amplifiers and keyboard of a band playing a party they're attending. Days later, Hunter retaliates on the street, resulting in a car chase; his car is then vandalized at school -- tires slashed, windows broken, feces on the hood, and the words "Suck It C--t" spray-painted on the windshield. Bullies grab Hunter in the hallway, duct tape his mouth shut, and shave off the long hair on one side of his head. While at odds with each other, Hunter uses a class project to trigger Emily's mental illness, causing her to scream and lash out at him. When the band starts a mosh pit, Hunter gets shoved back into his stack of amplifiers; they fall on him and break his leg (bone shown poking through pants). A security guard responds to Hunter's aggression by poking him in the crotch with his nightstick, causing him to fall and writhe in pain.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief nudity -- skinny dipping (buttocks). Characters lose their virginity. Brief close-up of a heavy metal poster featuring a drawing of a penis pierced with a ring. Minor character tells Kevin how her cousin "f--ked" a named celebrity. After Hunter describes having a cello player instead of a bass player as "completely gay," camera reveals quick shots of the homoerotic imagery of some of the heavy metal posters that adorn their practice space. Reference to how someone once pulled out their testicles in the middle of their set at a high school battle of the bands.
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Teens use very strong language throughout. The name of the band Hunter and Kevin are trying to get off the ground is called "Skullf--ker." "F--k" frequently used. "C--t" also used several times. Hunter uses the word "gay" in a negative context, but the scene is ultimately used to show that heavy metal has certainly been and continues to be a form of musical expression for some gay men, even if it's unclear whether or not Hunter finds this to be a teachable moment. Also: "motherf---er," "ass-rape," "c--ks," "f--ktards," "f--kholes," "dips--t," "bulls--t," "s--t," "t-ts," "badasses," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Guitar Center is the music store where Hunter, Kevin, and Emily shop and browse, and a receipt from Hunter's father shows that Hunter spent over $10,000 there on gear with his dad's credit card.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink and smoke weed at a party. Kevin gets drunk and finds he suddenly has the confidence to talk to girls -- before he vomits after breaking up a fight. A teen invites his friends to go into the school parking lot to drink whiskey in his truck.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Metal Lords is a coming-of-age comedy in which two teen best friends try to get their "post-death doom metal" band going in time for their school's Battle of the Bands. Teens drink and get drunk -- while one of the lead characters doesn't drink or use drugs, the other is shown getting drunk twice at parties. Teens also use strong language throughout -- "f--k" is often used, the band is called "Skullf--ker," and one of the lead character's curse word of choice is "c--t." Teens have sex, and secondary characters also binge drink and get high. Some bullying between the jocks of the school and the two lead characters -- one of the lead characters is shoved to the ground and humiliated at school or at parties, and one gets his mouth duct taped while the right side of his long hair is shaved off, and his car gets vandalized and graphically defaced. While discussing the prospect of having a female cello player in the band, one of the lead characters calls the idea "completely gay," and while he does eventually come around to both the girl and the cello in the band, there isn't much sense that his use of "gay" in a negative context leads to any kind of teachable moment. Brief nudity -- skinny dipping (buttocks). Characters lose their virginity. Brief close-up of a heavy metal poster featuring a drawing of a penis pierced with a ring. Minor character tells Kevin how her cousin "f--ked" a named celebrity. Reference to how someone once pulled out their testicles in the middle of their set at a high school Battle of the Bands. One of the lead characters struggles with mental illness and the medications they take. On the positive side, the movie does show how music is a creative outlet and how, for teens especially, it can provide a sense of identity and belonging. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a coming-of-age movie saved by rock and roll (correction: "post-death doom metal"). With its Wonder Years-style voiceovers, battles between the infernal jocks and our misfit heroes, and befuddled and barely present parental figures, Metal Lords starts off as if it's going to be little more than a mishmash of coming-of-age cliches and teens with the sophisticated musical tastes of much older screenwriters, with some John Hughes Gen-Xish teen angst thrown in for good measure. In fact, the movie even seems like it's set in the '80s or '90s until a scene in which an uncool band at a party covers Ed Sheeran. It hovers very close to being a cliched and overexaggerated tale of suburban boys finding the pathway to suburban adulthood through denim, leather, Black Sabbath, etc., but the charm and energy to the story is infectious and the acting is fantastic across the board. Adrian Greensmith, as the dorky-cool metal obsessive Hunter, captures that nerdy, intense introspective nonconformity that defines so many of the more extreme fans of that genre.
There are some very funny scenes, and many of them involve cameos from metal or metal-adjacent icons. It's a movie with about as much hard-hitting realism as School of Rock, but there is a sense of honest humanity to these characters that emerges in a way that often doesn't happen in coming-of-age movies. While some of the jokes and situations are best enjoyed by metal fans and/or musicians, there's enough to the story and the quality of the acting to make Metal Lords accessible to those who don't know their Reign in Blood from their Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?
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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.