A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comedy is designed to appeal to the same hip teens who like Gossip Girl and Judd Apatow movies. Conversations about sex and relationships are candid and specific (for example, teen girls discuss orgasms in a convenience store), and several couples hook up, especially one drunk teen girl. In one scene, the camera cuts from a couple making out to the sound of the girl's orgasm. Although the main teen characters don't drink, plenty of other underage characters do. Language includes "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and the like. Product placement includes Mac computers, iPods, and Gray's Papaya hot dogs.
What's the story?
Nick (Michael Cera) is a sensitive high school senior who plays bass in a band, drives a beloved Yugo, and burns soul-baring compilation CDs for his ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena). One night, Nick meets Tris' classmate Norah (Kat Dennings), a fellow indie rock lover, after a gig in Manhattan. The two instantly bond over their devotion to the fictional band Where's Fluffy, which is supposed to play at an undisclosed location in the city. While Nick and Norah search every possible club and bar for Fluffy, Nick's bandmates agree to drive Norah's drunk best friend home to New Jersey. What ensues is like Where's Waldo? meets Before Sunrise.
Is it any good?
Director Peter Sollett infuses this reasonably engaging film -- based on a young-adult novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan -- with the staples of most romantic comedies. There's the meet cute, a night out in New York City, comic-relief best friends, witty banter, and even a gross-out gag or two. And while the two protagonists -- especially go-to adolescent lead Cera -- are believable as hip-but-shy, sensitive-but-worldly, city-savvy-but-suburban-dwelling teens, parts of the film lag, get bogged down by the drunk-friend subplot, and just aren't as funny as the filmmakers intended.
What does work is the movie's vision of MySpace-generation teens as candid and tolerant. The teen culture in the film includes ubiquitous use of technology, gay and straight best friends, a rich record-company heiress who falls for a guy who drives a Yugo, girls who wear private school skirts by day and sexy mini skirts by night. This is the world that 21st-century teens live in, even if only a tiny fraction of them use New York's post-punk clubs and greasy spoons as their playground.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real-life consequences of the characters' behavior, particularly the underage drinking. How do you think a night like the one in the movie would turn out in real life? Families can also discuss whether this movie offers a realistic depiction of today's teens. How do TV shows and movies usually portray urban-dwelling teens as opposed to suburban teens? The film makes teens seem very accepting of friends with different cultures and sexuality. Teens: Is that the case with your friends? Also, does the way the characters use technology seem realistic? How is media a part of teen daily life?
- In theaters: October 2, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2009
- Cast: Alexis Dziena, Kat Dennings, Michael Cera
- Director: Peter Sollett
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic material including teen drinking, sexuality, language and crude behavior.
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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.