Forgettable, wishy-washy teen crime movie.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that November Criminals is a teen crime movie with some romance and comedy. Secondary teen characters are drug dealers, and sometimes there are no consequences for their actions. Drugs are shown, and one secondary character may be stoned. The main characters have sex and kiss, but they're under the sheets, with nothing sensitive seen. Guns are fired, characters die, and a character is shown with a bloody wound. Language includes several uses of "s--t," plus "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," and more. Teens could be interested thanks to stars Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie, If I Stay, The 5th Wave), but the movie's tentative, unsure tone leaves it feeling fairly disposable.
Not worth it
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What's the Story?
In NOVEMBER CRIMINALS, Addison (Ansel Elgort) is a high school senior in Washington, D.C., who does things the old-fashioned way -- he listens to cassette tapes and uses a pager -- and hopes to get into the University of Chicago. He goes for coffee with his best friend, Phoebe, nicknamed "Digger" (Chloe Grace Moretz). There, he chats with Kevin (Jared Kemp), who works as a barista and trades books with Addison. Later, Digger tells Addison she'd like to try sex for the first time, with him. But while they're doing that, Kevin is shot and killed by a mysterious gunman. Since Addison is still recovering from the recent death of his mother, he becomes obsessed with solving Kevin's murder. As Addison's dad (David Strathairn), Digger, and Digger's mom (Catherine Keener) try to protect him, Addison finds himself in a world of dangerous drug dealers.
Is It Any Good?
It's not terrible, and the characters are likable, but, much like its vague title, this teen crime thriller, which also has elements of comedy and romance, never finds its center or its voice. Elgort (fresh from Baby Driver) and Moretz make a great, smart movie couple, and their scenes together are quite nice; their talk is honest and sweet. And, as their single parents, Strathairn and Keener are nicely sympathetic. But these scenes don't mesh with the serious accounts of murder and drug dealing that follow.
Director Sacha Gervasi, who made the great documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil and the entertaining biopic Hitchcock, seems to have lost his way; he never establishes a firm or confident tone. The crime scenes are wishy-washy and hold back from true danger but are just dark enough to sour the movie's otherwise light tone. Scenes of teens involved with drugs are treated matter-of-factly and without concern, and crucial, visual moments occur offscreen; it's almost numbing. Eventually, November Criminals just evaporates, less diverting than it is disposable.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about November Criminals' depiction of teen sex. How much is shown? Are they responsible? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How much violence is shown? Is it appropriate for the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How do drugs, drug dealing, and drug use enter into the story? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?
How do the characters deal with the deaths of those around them?
- In theaters: December 8, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 9, 2018
- Cast: Ansel Elgort, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Strathairn
- Director: Sacha Gervasi
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic content including teen sexuality, drug material, brief violence and strong language
- Last updated: December 2, 2022
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