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Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Violent psycho-thriller is touching but flawed.

Movie NR 2020 108 minutes
Rent-A-Pal Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Definitely not for kids

As an adult, I somewhat enjoyed Rent-A-Pal, but not enough to recommend it to anyone else. It was solidly an adult film, so I would say that the NR rating should be R at minimum, but more like NC-17. There was a scene where the old mother was fully naked (from a distance, but close enough to realize that she was fully naked) as the son (David) was about to help her into the shower. There was a scene where David was masturbating (nothing implicitly shown other than him reaching into his pants) to a very detailed story of a sexual encounter given by Andy (Wil Wheaton) and another where he prematurely ejaculates as his girlfriend is touching him (again, nothing implicitly shown). There was a scene where David was watching a porn flick using an old film projector. There was no sound, and it was choppy, but it was very clear what was happening on the screen. David spends a huge portion of the movie drunk. Loads of profanity, especially in Andy’s description of his sexual encounter. Andy’s character was very mean spirited and controlling. David does eventually become violent. The thing that was interesting about the film was not really knowing if Andy was at all sentient or if David had lost touch with reality so much that it only seemed that Andy was sentient (I’m going with the latter). The movie reminded me of the old Anthony Hopkins flick, Magic.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Focused on raising familiar characters to compellingly intimate, emotional levels, this thriller is a bit of a letdown following the "breaking point" moment, but overall the good outweighs the bad. The feature writing and directing debut of Jon Stevenson, Rent-A-Pal begins soaring after a couple of early scenes. In one, David and his mother watch His Girl Friday on TV together, talking and remembering sweetly. In another, David re-records his dating video and comes up with an endearingly honest testimonial, only to be told -- heartbreakingly -- that it's too long. It would be easy to make fun of David, with his pale, uncool clothes, slicked-back hair, and glasses, but the movie understands that he's human; he loves his mother and longs for an end to his loneliness.

Even Andy is beautifully done. Wheaton's performance should have a note of menace, and it does, but the actor uses it to make Andy seem cool and fascinating rather than repellent. The variety of dialogue on the "Rent-A-Pal" tape, shown in a different order during various sequences, provides for an impressive array of emotional sequences, ranging from empathy and joy to ridicule and jealousy. And Rutledge is likewise warmly touching in her role. But when Rent-A-Pal turns a corner in the third act, it derails, not following the same emotional throughline. For a movie this compact and interior, too many rules are left unestablished. It's slightly unsatisfying, but not enough to undo the good work done in the early parts.

Movie Details

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