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Seventeen

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Seventeen Movie Poster Image
Subtitled coming-of-age tale has strong language.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

To gain anything in life, you have to know how to lose. Meaning that sometimes you have to compromise, and understand nuances, in order for things to work out. They won't always work out how you wanted, but sometimes letting go of getting your way will help things work out even better. Talk to your family and loved ones. Even if they drive you crazy, try to understand them and be there for them; they'll probably surprise you in amazing ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No diagnosis mentioned, but Hector seems to be in an area of the autism spectrum where he has trouble relating to people, apparently because he only understands things literally. He's fiercely protective of grandmother who raised him while she's in a care home. Hector steals a motorbike and things that his grandmother needs that the care home won't provide, which, along with past trouble with the law, lands him in juvenile detention. Older brother Isma has given up on Hector, frustrated with Hector's behavior and not knowing how to handle or even relate to his younger brother. Both brothers learn and grow, and overall messages are positive, hopeful for their futures.

Violence

Brief verbal bullying and destruction of Hector's most important possession in the juvenile detention facility. Grandma's imminent death and final resting place is a frequent topic, usually played affectionately and for comedy.

Sex

Relationship problems because of an unmarried couple's unplanned pregnancy.

Language

Translated from Spanish: "s--t," "ass," "motherf----r," "bulls--t," "f--king," "damn," "crap," "bastard," "retard," and middle-finger gesture for comedic effect.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult always has beer in the fridge and drinks regularly. Slight excess is shown once when he drinks in a bar; no consequences are shown. Hector, almost of legal age, says he doesn't like alcohol because he doesn't like to lose control. Hector and Isma steal tranquilizers to give their grandmother every 12 hours to help keep her calm on a long RV trip.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Seventeen (Diecisiete) is a coming-of-age dramedy in Spanish with English subtitles. There's plenty of strong language translated from Spanish, including "f--k," "s--t," and "motherf----r." There's also some verbal bullying such as "retard" and "dumbass." The two main characters fear their grandmother may die at any moment of their long RV trip, so a final resting place, last rites, ashes, and burials are frequent topics. Hector is trying to cope with the loss of a dog he trained and bonded with that then was adopted out to someone else. The only sexual content involves relationship problems because of an unplanned pregnancy. There's some drinking. Hector and Isma steal tranquilizers to give their grandmother every 12 hours to help keep her calm on a long RV trip. No diagnosis is mentioned, but main character Hector seems to fall on the autism spectrum where he doesn't relate to or understand other people and interprets everything literally. Ultimately, messages are positive about learning how to accept when things don't turn out the way you wanted.

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What's the story?

At SEVENTEEN, Hector (Biel Montoro) finds himself in a juvenile detention facility after being on the wrong side of the law one time too many. Unable to relate to or form connections with other people, Hector is often bullied and made fun of by the other kids in the facility. To prevent his frequent attempts at running away, Hector's supervisors enroll him in a program that has detainees train stray dogs so they become more adoptable. Hector forms a strong bond with the dog assigned to him, which he names Sheep. Hector is devastated when one day Sheep doesn't arrive at the facility because he's been adopted out. Hector's determined to find where Sheep ended up and get him back, somehow. But first he's got to pick up his bedridden grandmother and convince his older brother Isma (Nacho Sánchez) to drive the three of them all around the region in search of Sheep. Can the two brothers also find a way to face life, and all its losses and gains, together as a family again?

Is it any good?

This coming-of-age dramedy is quirky, heartwarming, and funny. Although if you're looking for a side-splitting laugh riot, keep going, because the humor in Seventeen comes from smaller moments when we recognize our own foibles through the lovely performances, or from the smart, snappy dialogue, or when we can see the two brothers heading straight for disaster -- again. Hector isn't an easy character to like, but teens will relate to and empathize with him as he struggles with the nuances of right and wrong (is it bad to do something wrong if it's for a good reason?), and wonders why people can't just say what they mean.

The colorful cast of oddball supporting characters, the beautifully filmed Spanish countryside, and of course, the dogs, make this a nice choice for families with teens who can handle the strong language. Keep a tissue handy at the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Seventeen. Is it realistic? How much is OK in movies, TV shows, or books? Is it a big deal?

  • Is Hector autistic? Do you know anyone who is? Do you think he's a realistic depiction of someone on the spectrum? Did this portrayal change the way you think about people who have difficulties relating to others?

  • How does taking care of and training Sheep help Hector? Do you think programs that allow inmates to work with animals could be useful and effective? Why or why not?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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