A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Explores themes of how smartphones have changed the ways we interact and get information and the perils of seeking (and getting) vengeance. Also makes a point to highlight several great novels, as the lead character has a job reading to an elderly man who's losing his sight.
Positive Role Models
Craig is a typical American teen (circa 2000s) who learns a lesson on the pain that comes from seeking and getting vengeance on someone else, even if their actions warrant it.
A teacher and role model who inspires Craig is a Black woman in a predominantly White high school in rural Maine. Lead character lives with his father as an only child two years after the untimely death of his mother.
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Violence & Scariness
Brief graphic violence: a dead body in a shower stall after a suicide by choking. Dead body of a teenager shown face down on the ground after he died slipping off the roof of his house. Two characters killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. High school bullying: A teen shoves and threatens the lead character, gives him the nickname "Short Bus." The teen and lead character later get into a fistfight outside of prom, resulting in the lead character being knocked to the ground, injuries on his face. Talk of how a man committed suicide by asphyxiation in a garage.
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Occasional profanity: "f--k," "a--holes," "s--t," "ass," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
The first iPhone devices feature prominently in this movie.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lead character witnesses a pot deal outside of the school. One minor character smokes cigarettes. A drunk driving incident plays a role.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mr. Harrigan's Phone is a 2022 drama-thriller in which a teen boy discovers that he can communicate with his recently deceased benefactor through their smartphones. It's based on a coming-of-age short story by Stephen King. Expect some brief flashes of graphic violence, including dead bodies after accidental death and suicide and two fatalities due to the recklessness of a drunk driver. The lead character, Craig (Jaeden Martell), must deal with a bullying teen who nicknames him "Short Bus" and threatens him, culminating in a fistfight during the prom that leaves Craig bruised and injured. Craig visits a garage where a suicide took place and witnesses a pot deal outside of school. The movie also has cigarette smoking by a minor character. Occasional language includes "f--k." The movie begins in the year 2003, when the iPhone was first on the market, and addresses how smartphones have changed us in the years since. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Viewers might expect a horror-thriller, but this is more of a coming-of-age story about the perils of revenge and a reflection on how we've changed since the arrival of the smartphone. Mr. Harrigan's Phone is set in 2003 and the years after as the first iPhones came onto the market, but aside from some period music from the 2000s and the rise of texting and scrolling, the nostalgia isn't particularly heavy. The story is about the good and bad ways the wisdom and advice of older generations influences younger generations.
It's not for everyone, particularly those who see that it's a Stephen King story and expect scares on par with The Shining or It. Those expecting horror, gore, and even scares will be particularly disappointed when they learn that the "secrets" that the despised reclusive billionaire (wonderfully played by Donald Sutherland) keeps behind a locked door in his mansion aren't dead bodies, severed limbs, demons, etc., but are more in line with what the story is actually about. In the King canon, it's more akin to Stand by Me than anything else he's known for, and it's best for those who want a simple story that has some graphic moments but isn't defined by those moments.
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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.
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