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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids need a safe, loving environment to heal and learn to trust again after going through hard times. Providing that kind of place is difficult, and the young people put up plenty of roadblocks, but for Grace and Mason, it can also be rewarding to help them.
Positive Role Models
Grace, Mason, and the other counselors at the group home strive to create a safe environment for troubled youth, sometimes while enduring emotional and physical resistance.
Violence & Scariness
Brief fights between teens. Several episodes involving youth counselors who must wrestle troubled youths into submission at a group home. Two girls trade fairly graphic stories about how they were abused by their fathers. A young man tries to hurt himself with a shard of broken glass.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some flirting between couples, and one relatively tame love scene that ends abruptly. A woman is shown bathing, though no sensitive body parts are visible.
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Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "hell," "balls," "bitch," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters occasionally smoke cigarettes, and a few scenes include social drinking at parties (not explicitly by underage characters). One teen character hides pot in his room.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.