A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Person to Person is an indie ensemble drama about a day in the life of various New Yorkers. A subplot involves teens who skip school, drink, and hook up at someone's empty house. Language isn't frequent but includes "bitch," "d--k," "damn," and more. Expect plenty of references to sex, pornography, and uploading nude pictures to the internet. Violence is limited to a couple of threats, an off-screen murder, and a guy who crashes his bike and falls off. Although one of the stars is Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson, this movie is more likely to appeal to adult fans of indie films than to teens. But for teens who do watch it, the movie could spark conversations about social media, relationships, and New York City.
What's the story?
Debut feature director Dustin Guy Defa's PERSON TO PERSON introduces viewers to a motley crew of loosely interconnected characters in New York City. There's Bene (Bene Coopersmith), a vintage record collector who's interested in purchasing a rare Charlie Parker album. Meanwhile, his heartbroken best friend, Ray (George Sample III), is crashing on Bene's couch because one huge mistake ruined his relationship with the love of his life. And 20-something Claire (Abbi Jacobson) starts her new job as a crime reporter for a local newspaper and must join her nerdy editor, Phil (Michael Cera), on the case of a suspicious suicide that could have been murder. One of the potential sources for the story is Jimmy (Philip Baker Hall), an elderly watch repairman whose friends hang out at his shop. Lastly, there's intelligent teen Wendy (Tavi Gevinson), whose best friend, Melanie (Olivia Luccardi), tricks her into hanging out with her uninteresting boyfriend and his best friend. Each story progresses until nighttime, showing a full day in different New Yorkers' lives.
Is it any good?
While occasionally charming, this ensemble indie about strangers and friends in New York City focuses so much more on characterization than a cohesive plot that it's only partially compelling. Not all of the subplots are equal; the relationship between Jacobson's new reporter and Cera's editor is the least interesting (not to mention that there's no way a former library worker could land a job as a beat reporter in the media industry's most competitive city). But Cera and Jacobson might want to consider working together again in a straight-up comedy, as both are gifted comedians. On the other side, the subplot with the least screen time has hilarious moments: Baker Hall's watch repair shop features his good friend, Buster (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), whose storytelling skills are without equal. His tale of making love to a woman who had "made it" with Frank Sinatra is a real scene stealer.
Gevinson, looking and sounding like a mash-up of a young Michelle Williams and Scarlett Johansson, is well cast as a smart, judgmental bisexual teen who can't stand her best friend's dimwitted boyfriend. But the movie really belongs to feature newcomer Coopersmith, who also starred in the short film on which Person to Person is based. He's refreshingly real and compelling as an upbeat middle-aged hipster who doesn't seem to do anything but look for vinyl gems for his record collection. Sample is also a standout as Bene's melancholic best friend who regrets what he did to the woman he loves. It's just a shame that the various parts of this movie don't add up to something more interesting.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the city of New York play an important role in the story? What would you say the movie is more interested in exploring: plot or characterization?
How does the movie illustrate the significance of consequences?
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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.