Perfect Sisters

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Perfect Sisters Movie Poster Image
Murder, booze, drugs in melodramatic true-crime movie.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As it's a movie about two teenage sisters who murder their alcoholic mother, there isn't much in the way of positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two teenage lead characters are frequently shown getting drunk and smoking marijuana. Their mother is an alcoholic with a boyfriend who is physically abusive to her and her son and is sexually inappropriate with one of her teenage daughters. No positive role models here.

Violence

Two teenage girls kill their mother by getting her drunk on vodka while feeding her pills before drowning her in a bathtub. The mother's boyfriend slaps her young son hard in the face, knocking him over and making him cry. A teenage girl attempts suicide by overdosing on pills; her sister rescues her by putting her fingers down the girl's throat until she vomits. In the middle of the movie is a sequence called "How to Kill Your Mother," in which different methods of murder are discussed.

Sex

Two teenage girls come home from school to find their mom on the floor in the living room with her boyfriend on the verge of having sex. A teen girl lies to other kids in her school about getting pregnant while having an affair with her therapist. This same teen girl tells a boy that she "blew a guy in a movie theater" while her girlfriend watched. A young boy plays with a vibrator like it's a child's toy in the living room next to his intoxicated mother.

Language

Frequent profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "slut bag."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen girls drink, smoke marijuana, and abuse pills. Their mother is frequently shown drunk, unable to walk, slurring her speech. Her boyfriend also is frequently drunk, causing him to be physically abusive to the mother and her young son, as well as making sexual advances to one of her teen daughters. Teenage party scenes in which teens drink beer and shots, act drunk, play drinking games, and smoke marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Perfect Sisters is a 2014 based-on-actual-events movie about two teenage sisters who murder their alcoholic mother. The events leading up to the murder are shown in graphic-enough detail: The mother is an alcoholic frequently shown drunk at all hours of the day; her latest in a string of abusive boyfriends is shown slapping her son hard in the face and also making strong sexual advances toward one of the girls; and the girls are free to go out at all hours of the night, going to parties where they drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. To kill their mother, the girls are shown giving their mother vodka and pills, then taking her into the tub and drowning her. Also, there is a quirky dark-humored sequence entitled "How to Kill Your Mother" in which different ways of killing one's mother are discussed. The teen girls walk in on their mom almost having sex with her boyfriend in the living room. A young boy is shown playing with his mother's vibrator like it's a child's toy while she sits next to him intoxicated. Frequent profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "slut bag."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byofwonderlands March 1, 2015

This true story hits home, but is NOT for kids

I loved perfect sisters, for it's realism. It is based on a true story and I first heard about the production a few years ago because I follow Georgie Henl... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPhoebeee May 27, 2015
Teen, 15 years old Written byMOVIESRMYPASSION June 6, 2016

Truly Stunning

This movie would be a great pick if you're a teen and want to watch something thrilling and sappy. It is both. There are themes of drugs, rape, murder, and... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley) are teenage sisters whose alcoholic mother (Mira Sorvino) is moving them once again to a new apartment with their younger brother. After making an effort to get her life back on track, their mother descends once again into alcoholism and irresponsible parenting, dating yet another boyfriend who is physically abusive to her and her son and who makes sexual advances toward Beth. Faced with an intolerable home life -- especially when their mother decides they're going to move again, this time into the home of her abusive boyfriend -- Sandra and Beth, with the help of Beth's boyfriend, Justin, and their new friend, popular "mean girl" Ashley, begin to plot ways in which they can end their mother's life. When Sandra and Beth actually go through with it -- feeding their mom vodka and pills, then drowning her in the tub and making it look like an accident -- they believe they're finally free to live with their kind aunt. But as gossip begins to swirl around them in their high school -- and Beth in particular begins to feel deep guilt and remorse, which she tries to drown out through drugs and alcohol -- their perfect plan begins to fall apart, especially as the authorities dig deeper and search the Internet trail they've left along the way.

Is it any good?

Solid acting prevents PERFECT SISTERS from being worse than it is. Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, and Mira Sorvino take an over-the-top and melodramatic screenplay and turn in credible performances, all things considered. However, the secondary characters -- the "mean girl," the "sensitive emo boy," the "kind but stern aunt," "the nice boy who never gets the girl" -- are clichés straight out of pretty much every teen movie from the last 20 years, to say nothing of the overlong teen party scenes in which far too much time is spent on drinking games, pot smoking, and over-served partygoers stumbling around.

Although the movie goes to great lengths to show the horrible home life of these girls, it also inexplicably vacillates between wanting to be a "true crime" movie and a "teen life" movie. Scenes of alcoholic despair and graphic physical abuse are interspersed with attempts at quirkiness with an interlude called "How to Kill Your Mother." Such awkward attempts at trying to appeal to teenagers take away from the actual story. Overall, this is an interesting and very tragic story based on real events, but these real events get drowned out at the expense of attempts at cleverness and movie trickery that at times feels exploitative.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how adolescence is shown in this movie. Which parts of this movie feel real to what teenagers experience both inside and outside of high school, and what parts seem cliché or overdone?

  • This movie was based on a book based on true events. What do you see as the challenges in turning a book into a movie, especially one based on a true story?

  • Which parts of this movie seem true, and which parts seem embellished or exaggerated for the sake of the story?

Movie details

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