A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Short Term 12 refers to a group home for troubled youths, and the film centers on a supervisor who's charged with creating a safe place for them. It's a tough, honest look at people who've been through difficult experiences (abuse/molestation, cutting, etc.) and need space to heal. Expect plenty of emotional moments as the characters slowly reveal troubling episodes in their past. There's a good deal of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), plus flirting, a relatively tame love scene, some drinking/smoking, and a few intense physical confrontations.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Grace (Brie Larson) is a supervisor at SHORT TERM 12, a group home for troubled youths. She must provide both compassion and discipline to keep her charges in line, while also making them feel safe and protected. She gets help on all fronts from her co-worker/boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). When a teenage girl (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives, Grace tries to break through her tough exterior -- and in the process must relive some tough memories from her own past.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why they think Grace and Mason are drawn to this type of work. How do their own pasts help them relate to the kids in their care?
Parents, talk to your kids about the teens at the group home: What do you think about their struggles? What stands in their way, and what helps them rise above their challenges?
Who do you think this movie is most intended to appeal to? Teens or their parents? Why?
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