A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shimmer Lake, a Fargo-esque crime comedy-drama, contains lots of violence and profanity. Betrayal among criminals and an inept heist by clueless thieves results in bloody and remorseless shootings. A married man is blackmailed for his homosexuality. A meth lab accident results in injuries and death. A little girl, imitating an adult, calls someone a "fat f--king bastard."
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What's the story?
SHIMMER LAKE is a dark, comic Fargo-like crime story in which three hapless criminals blackmail a politically-aspiring bank owner (John Michael Higgins) to help them rob his bank. A savvy local sheriff (Benjamin Walker of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) pursues three suspects -- his inept brother (Rainn Wilson of Six Feet Under), a careless ex-con (Wyatt Russell) and a brain-injured hanger-on (Mark Rendall). The ex-con's wife (Stephanie Sigman) plays a small but pivotal role. Told backwards, the story offers bits and pieces of information to help the audience make sense of the clumsy heist and how and why it was planned and executed. Blood, murder, shootings, and betrayal all play out in intermittently mystifying ways. An exploded meth lab and a child's death (both unseen) are frequently mentioned, the former serving as the cause of the mental impairment of one of the robbers.
Is it any good?
This movie takes viewers along on an engaging ride but it feels as if writer-director Oren Uziel strains under pressure to make the film funnier and cleverer than it actually is. There's no real need nor any exceptional payoff that makes telling the story backwards anything more than an unprofitable gimmick. The humor isn't really black and twisted enough to rival the Cohn brothers' Fargo, Shimmer Lake's knowing or unknowing inspiration, and the storytelling isn't complex enough to match the time reversal that explains it all at the end of Spike Lee's Inside Man. But Uziel, a co-writer of 22 Jump Street, and writer of Mortal Kombat: Rebirth and Freaks of Nature, is definitely a filmmaker to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in movies. Do the murders in Shimmer Lake, some intended, some accidental, all feel necessary for the plot to make sense?
Why do you think the filmmaker decided to tell the story backwards? Do you think it adds anything to the story or could it have been told chronologically and been equally effective?
A child was killed when irresponsible adults failed to protect him from their criminal activities. What does this movie say about adults who don't watch out for the well-being of kids?
For kids who love thrills
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