A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Proposes to examine themes of how violence in art and violence in real-life relate to each other, but doesn't go very far; it essentially follows a straight line. ("Art imitates life, which imitates art, which ... ") But perhaps viewers can continue this discussion and add to it.
Positive Role Models
One character shows empathy with her attempt to record the story of a killer's victims, but her efforts are marginalized by a story that focuses on gore and killing.
Violence & Scariness
Extreme slasher-style blood and gore. Bloody, gory animated credits sequence. Dead dog tangled in barbed-wire fence. Three dead teens are briefly shown: naked, bloody, posed together in a gory scene. Many dead bodies. Severed head. Headless body, with entrails shown. Character stabbed by branch. Masked killer shoots people, stabbing teens many times, and strangling someone. Adult cleaved by child. Killer head-butts a character. Guns and shooting. Small-scale model of murder scene, with bloody female victims. Images of gory comics. Victims bound. Character picks at his thumb with a pin.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Naked (bloody) women briefly seen in a comic book.
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Fairly frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus exclamatory use of "Jesus Christ."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of Pokémon.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke pot. Cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Random Acts of Violence, which was directed by co-star Jay Baruchel, is a meta slasher movie based on a 2010 comic book. Violence is extreme and very gory; there are several killings with knives, guns, and a cleaver, and via strangulation. Expect to see dead bodies, severed heads, headless bodies, entrails, and much more. There's brief female nudity in comic book drawings (victims covered with blood). Language is fairly frequent and includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). Teens smoke pot, and a cigarette is shown. The movie's message about art imitating life falls rather flat. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Jay Baruchel's adaptation of a 2010 comic delivers lots of gore and a few relatable characters. But its main theme, a meta meditation on violence in media and in real life, remains curiously superficial. As Random Acts of Violence begins with an intriguing look at Todd and Kathy's relationship, it looks as if it's going to have a certain dedication to character development. Certainly the movie's characters -- including Ezra and Aurora -- are fun and/or likable, but it's not long before they sputter and stall. Todd's writer's block, for example, isn't the most dynamic or visual thing, and Ezra is little more than a pest, forever badgering Todd to finish his book.
Moreover, the disconnect between Kathy's empathetic book about the victims and Todd's exploitative comic about the killer should have driven more of a dramatic wedge into the story and characters. But Random Acts of Violence never goes very deep. When the killings start, they all involve new characters who were introduced moments earlier, so there's no emotional connection for viewers. Finally, the commentary on violence just runs around in circles with a life-imitates-art-imitates-life motion without ever landing on an idea. Certainly gore hounds will squeal to the movie's creative killings, but Random Acts of Violence promises, and could have been, much more.
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.