A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's a "be-careful-what-you-wish-for" cautionary tale about messing around with the forces of the universe, especially with money as the goal. The greed message isn't really resolved (no lessons are learned).
Positive Role Models
Although the characters are incredibly smart, they are also somewhat unscrupulous, intending to use their knowledge mainly for financial gain.
Violence & Scariness
Brief fighting, choking, knocking unconscious. Dialogue about a man waving a shotgun at a party. Brief images of a shotgun. Bleeding ears (side effects of time traveling).
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Infrequent language includes "fags," "prick," "hell," "jacking around."
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Products & Purchases
A reference to Wal-Mart. An old Hasbro "Weeble" toy is used in several scenes, but not referenced. Papermate pen shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters take Dramamine while time-traveling. Drugged drink, knocking out character. Social drinking at party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Primer is an independent sci-fi movie about time travel. It's very talky and brainy, and often confusing, but its intelligence and confidence have made it a cult classic, and for teen viewers and their parents, it's worth diving into more than once. Violence includes brief fighting and choking, knocking a character unconscious, and bleeding ears (side effects of time traveling). There's dialogue about a man waving a shotgun at a party, plus brief images of a shotgun. Language is mild, and includes uses of "fags," "prick," "hell," "jacking around." There's some social drinking at a party, characters take Dramamine while time-traveling, and a drink is drugged. We hear a spoken reference to Wal-Mart, a Papermate pen is shown, and an old Hasbro Weeble toy is used in several scenes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Brainy, technical, and talky, this low-budget sci-fi movie breaks the rules of storytelling; it's deliberately confusing, but its absolute confidence makes it all the more alluring and fascinating. Written and directed by Shane Carruth (who also produced, edited, composed the score, and acted), Primer runs a "B"-movie length of 77 minutes, but it's a dense 77 minutes. The dialogue sounds ultra-naturalistic, sounding like engineers and businessmen in meetings, and it's easy to miss something, although not everything spoken is essential, either. It's not a casual movie, and not for everybody, but highly rewarding.
There are no visual effects, no depictions of what it might look like to travel through time. In truth, there's quite a lot of time spent sitting around and waiting. Nevertheless, Carruth builds tingling suspense throughout, mainly because of the way Primer feels absolutely real, as if this stuff could actually happen, and because of the intriguing sense of the unknown. The organic, edgy sense of science at work -- Carruth studied mathematics, rather than filmmaking -- make it seem as if this is a movie that needs further study. And indeed, it does hold up to (and demands) multiple viewings, and each viewing brings a startling new revelation to light.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.