S--thouse

Movie review by
Marina Gordon, Common Sense Media
S--thouse Movie Poster Image
Talky romantic drama is a college kegger with heart.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Everyone can make regrettable choices; the key is to be honest about your feelings and open to change in the long run. It's important to try to improve an uncomfortable situation instead of retreating; sometimes the comfort of family and memories can be a crutch. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters make choices they sometimes regret but are honest about their feelings, open to change. All the main characters drink to the point of facing negative consequences (vomiting, hangovers, morning-after regrets; one character soils himself while sleeping). Many instances of casual sex, with condoms. On the plus side, Alex pushes through his loneliness to connect with Maggie, his roommate, others. Alex is kind and loving to his mother and sister, who desperately miss him but want him to adapt to his new life.

Violence
Sex

Though not graphic, it's obvious that characters are having sex in a couple of instances. Condoms feature prominently, including a used one.

Language

Frequent swearing, starting with the title. "S--t," "f--k," "p---y," and "t-ts" are used liberally.

Consumerism

Characters use Instagram, iPhone, MacBook products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters are underage college students who drink lots of beer, wine, vodka, often with negative consequences (vomiting, hangovers, morning-after regrets; one character soils himself while sleeping). One character smokes pot and cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that S--thouse is a drama about one eye-opening weekend in the life of a homesick college freshman who's been avoiding the social aspects of college in Los Angeles. Alex (Cooper Raiff) is lonely, depressed, lying to his beloved mother and sister, and considering transferring to college in his hometown, Dallas. Then his crude, sloppy, consistently drunk or high roommate (Logan Miller) takes him to a party at S--thouse, the type of college party house where red Solo cups litter the tables and near-strangers hook up in any available room. Alex starts a very casual sexual relationship (no explicit nudity, but it's clear what's happening) with his dorm R.A., Maggie (Dylan Gelula), that, over the course of the weekend, becomes a more lasting connection. Not unexpectedly for a movie titled S--thouse, you can expect to hear plenty of swearing, including "s--t," "f--k," "p---y," and "t-ts." In addition to lots of drinking (to the point of vomiting, hangovers, and more) and some pot use, characters smoke cigarettes.

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What's the story?

In writer-director-actor Cooper Raiff’s first feature film, S--THOUSE, Alex (Raiff) is a lonely freshman at a Los Angeles college who hasn't yet had his fabled college experience. He's made no friends, his roommate (Logan Miller) is a selfish ass, and he hasn't even met his dorm R.A., Maggie (Dylan Gelula), six months into the school year. After a chance encounter with Maggie, a party at the eponymous S--thouse, and a meandering, debauched weekend, Alex starts to build a foundation for his life at school. He also realizes that he needs to put some space between him and his mother (Amy Landecker) and sister (Olivia Welch) back in Texas; staying in touch as though he still lived at home was keeping him too emotionally tethered to them.

Is it any good?

This SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Narrative is a realistic, often wrenching glimpse at both the mundane and momentous parts of college life. For a time that's considered life-altering, the college years are often depicted simplistically in movies -- either as endless frat parties (Animal House) or as unlikely launchpads (Legally Blonde). S--thouse's slow pace takes viewers on the familiar journey of discovering someone's layers through lots of time and lots of talk. Yes, Alex and Melissa drink and have sex, but primarily they talk -- about his loneliness, their families, and death.

S--thouse feels like a Duplass brothers movie, which is no accident: Raiff cajoled Jay Duplass (who's made many acclaimed talky movies with his brother, Mark) to advise on the film's production. The result is a directorial debut that shows the often aching loneliness and pull of home that can slap a first-year student awake from the dream of college life as it's depicted in movies, brochures, and hazy memories. Though the resolution of Alex's issues may feel too pat (pulling yourself out from a depression isn't often accomplished in a weekend), the relationships ring recognizable and true.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how S--thouse depicts romantic/sexual relationships. Are its insights fresh and new? What's the overarching message?

  • Talk about the drinking and drug use in the movie. Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • What kinds of expectations about college life and independence do movies about leaving home for the first time tend to set? How does this one compare?

Movie details

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For kids who love dramas

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