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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Miles is a story of perseverance and courage about an LGBTQ teen who dreams of going to college in Chicago. The movie has mature content, including several references to sexting and masturbation, as well as a graphic sex scene (with partial nudity) between adults. Miles talks to strangers online, sharing personal information with no consequences. Swearing is common but not constant; there's one use of "f--k," plus "d--k," "c--k," and "bulls--t." Drinking is infrequent, but one adult character does get drunk. Both adults and Miles' volleyball teammates stand up for him against bullying and backlash from his community. Older teens are likely to appreciate the movie's messages about overcoming adversity, defeating the status quo, and working hard to achieve your dreams.
What's the story?
MILES is the story of a teen from a small town who dreams of escaping to the big city and becoming a filmmaker. After his father passes away and Miles (Tim Boardman) and his mom, Pam (Molly Shannon), realize that he was having an affair, they begin to navigate life on their own -- dealing with money problems, dating, and grief. Miles finds a volleyball scholarship at Loyola University in Chicago, so he joins his high school's girls' volleyball team (there is no boys' team). Despite support from his coach and teammates, Miles is bullied and prevented from playing by his peers and school administrators. Throughout the movie, he chats online with a closeted boy from Chicago. Miles, who's gay, encourages his online friend to come out to his family; in turn , the other boy encourages Miles to fight for his dreams. The movie follows Miles' quest to get to Chicago -- using volleyball, AOL, and eventually his camcorder.
Is it any good?
This feel-good coming-of-age dramedy touches on several important themes: LGBTQ identity, gender equality and stereotypes, loss, and financial issues. But it never dives deep enough into these issues to make them stick. The pace drags at times, and it can feel like Miles is simultaneously trying to do too much and too little. But Miles is a relatable role model for teens. His sexual identity isn't the center of his storyline, and his romantic life isn't the central focus of the film. He never victimizes himself, regardless of the obstacles he faces, and he always believes that hard work will get him where he needs to go. After everything he goes through, he remains a symbol of strength and positivity for his mother.
That said, Boardman's stoic acting sometimes makes Miles seem apathetic rather than strong. And parts of the story seem underdeveloped, leaving viewers wanting more. More insight into Miles’ parents’ marriage, the relationship between the coach and the team, and Miles' LGBTQ identity and his passion for filmmaking would've made the storyline stick. The dialogue also feels a bit forced, especially during points of high tension or conflict. But the movie eventually earns an emotional response from the audience and could very well jumpstart important conversations about ambition, overcoming adversity, and defying norms.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying in Miles. Why does Miles get bullied/made fun of for being on the sports team? Do you agree with what he and the principal and superintendent did?
Is it fair for boys to play on girls' teams -- and vice versa -- if there isn't a separate team for their gender? Title IX has generally worked in favor of girls playing on boys' teams -- what about the reverse? What message does this movie send about stereotypes regarding girls' and boys' sports abilities?
How do Miles and his mother deal with losing someone close to them? How can people support those who've lost loved ones?
- In theaters: June 9, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: June 9, 2017
- Cast: Molly Shannon, Paul Reiser, Missi Pyle, Tim Boardman
- Director: Nathan Adloff
- Studio: Freestyle Releasing
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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