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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Replicas is a sci-fi thriller about a scientist (Keanu Reeves) who brings his dead family back to life via cloning and consciousness-transferring. The main issue is violence; expect to see guns and shooting, dead bodies, blood, a terrible car crash (in which children die), temper tantrums, beatings, choking, injections, etc. There are also a few suggestive scenes: A female character emerges naked from a pod (nothing graphic is shown), a boat is named the "Cheatin' Hussy" (with a picture of a woman in a bikini), and there's some innuendo. Language includes several uses of "s--t" and "hell," plus "bastard," "goddamn," and more. Full of nonsense and logic loopholes, it's only recommended as an unintentional comedy.
What's the story?
In REPLICAS, scientist Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) is working for a company called Biodyne. He's trying to develop a way to transfer human consciousness into a synthetic body, but something isn't quite working. While taking a much-needed vacation with his family, there's a terrible car accident, and Will's entire family -- his wife, Mona (Alice Eve), and their three kids -- dies. Will realizes that he can pair his own knowledge with that of his cloning-expert colleague Ed (Thomas Middleditch) to bring them back to life. Trouble starts when Will realizes there are only three pods in which to grow the clones -- meaning he has to decide which family member to eliminate. Then there's the matter of a looming deadline at work and pressure from his boss (John Ortiz), stolen company equipment, his family's absences in the world, and whether the risky experiment will actually work. Not to mention that Biodyne may not be what it seems.
Is it any good?
This frustrating failure of a sci-fi thriller is so full of lapses in logic and is so consistently nonsensical that its many mistakes completely eclipse all attempts at story and character. Written by Chad St. John (London Has Fallen, Peppermint), Replicas starts out as a variation on the Frankenstein theme, with humans meddling in affairs of existence. But then the movie switches from a mad-scientist drama to a brain-dead thriller and drops any kind of cautionary themes it might have had. As the scientist, the grave Reeves is all wrong; a loopier actor (Woody Harrelson? Nicolas Cage?) could have given the role some camp, but here we're asked to take Will's bizarre plight seriously.
The screenplay is perhaps the worst offender. It acknowledges most of the problems involved with bringing (all but one of) your family back to life, such as why aren't the kids at school? Why isn't Mona at work? But it deals with them quickly and carelessly, as if sweeping evidence under a rug and leaving a huge lump. Plus, it never explains why Ed would go along with Will's harebrained -- and illegal -- scheme. Replicas is the kind of movie in which the main character crashes his car at the beginning and then climbs into another, uncrashed car at the end (as part of a car chase), without any explanation about where it came from. The only thing Replicas might be good for is a few unintentional laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does this story compare to Frankenstein and other variations on that theme (Pet Sematary, etc.)? What do you think the movie is trying to say?
Is Will an admirable character? What are his strengths and accomplishments? What are his faults? Does one side outweigh the other?
How does the movie deal with loss and grief?
Did Will have the right to delete the memory of Zoe? Why or why not?
- In theaters: January 11, 2019
- Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch
- Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
- Studio: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references
For kids who love sci-fi and thrillers
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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.