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Parents' Guide to

Short Term 12

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Heartrending troubled-teen drama explores heavy themes.

Movie R 2013 96 minutes
Short Term 12 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

Sadly accurate in some ways, not so much in others

Unfortunately I know someone very much like Jayden, the girl "Short Term 12's" main character Grace gets to know. The movie is pitch perfect accurate when Grace and Jayden agree that harming themselves takes the pain away from what's going on in their lives, as that is EXACTLY what my friend has told me. It's a sad distortion on the truth, and a horrible way to cope with feelings, but that is how these sorts of children deal with their problems. I could tell director Cretton strove for authenticity in this film, and he achieved it somewhat, in other spots it felt a little Hollywood-ish, even for an indie. I would've loved to have seen more character development for Nate, the newbie at Short Term 12, but reversely I got a lot of that out of Grace, the breakout Brie Larson, Mason and Keith Stanfield's stoic, tragic Marcus. It's for sure worth a rent, and has great role models in people like Grace and Mason, who put their burdens aside to help these youth in need. Just don't call them "underprivileged."

This title has:

Great role models
Too much swearing
age 16+

Deep & Satisfying!

Short Term 12 is an excellent film that I think many older teens and adults will really appreciate. It's one of those totally realistic, natural films with depth where everything feels so real and the acting is superb. I found it very engaging and highly emotional. It's a story about a group home (or foster care facility) supervisor Grace (Brie Larson) who, along with her long-time boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), look after a group of teens who have come from troubled lives and are outcasts all trying to fit in and find their meaning. Grace connects with a newcomer called Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) who seems deeply scarred from the hands of her father but both share similar struggles of family abuse. Grace tries to open her up which leads to her own troubles resurfacing that she's been able to hide for so long. Grace and Mason are an incredibly determined couple who have a lot of heart for the kids they are caring for but in order for their own relationship to stay afloat, they must both try to understand, accept and heal the scars from their past. Very heartfelt story with many different issues that a lot of people can relate to. Fantastic acting by the entire cast, I mainly viewed for the rising star who is becoming very known for her wonderful performances, Brie Larson. The language is very strong with many f-words (around 50!) including in music lyrics and sh*t, b*tch, @ss, fat-@ss, d@mn, hell, some name calling and a few sexually related words/references. Violence includes lots of fighting, pushing and some yelling and arguing, one gory scene of self-abuse where a character hurts himself with broken glass, a character picks at her cuticles of her thumb during nervous tension and we see blood, a woman slaps a man while kissing but we learn she didn't mean to, a woman almost beats a man with a bat, two characters smash and destroy a mans car, a character's fish dies, results of abuse are seen like bodily bruises, cuts and marks, references to abortion, stories of abuse are shared. Sexual content includes a couple of kisses, a making out scene with groping on a couch passionately but goes no further when she slaps him, some romantic dancing, a man openly claims he and his girlfriend have not had sex in 9 days and 13 hours, a woman gets pregnant for a second time, references to abortion, references to sexual abuse, a scene of a woman taking a bath (nothing graphic). There are some drugs when a woman finds a bag of pot in a teens room, song lyrics from a character describe his mother making him sell drugs as a child, some prescription drug talk and use. There are lots of good messages here and the two main characters are fantastic role models! Story is too strong for kids, mature 15/16 and up is fine.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (3 ):

There's nothing fleeting about the beauty of SHORT TERM 12. It's masterful storytelling, cemented by performances so authentic that you almost think you're watching a documentary. And it takes you to places that feel familiar (in dramas anyway) -- in this case, a halfway house for troubled kids -- but leads you to new places of feeling.

Larson is particularly excellent; her Grace is a classic example of heavy baggage locked up tight and bursting at the seams, but she's also warm and embracing and lovely. (There are no one-dimensional characters here.) The rest of the cast is in fine form, too, rendering the kids at the group home in full detail, thereby making their struggles feel more urgent and acute. Your heart will barely survive. In less talented hands, the film could've easily ended up a treacly, over-dramatic after-school special. Short Term 12 handily avoids that fate.

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