A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this teen coming-of-age drama set in a small Texas town in the early 1980s includes many scenes of partying and teen drinking (mostly beer, but some hard liquor as well), as well as heavy cigarette smoking and a scene of pot smoking. Language is infrequent but fairly strong -- including "s--t" and "a--hole," in addition to some homosexual slurs. There's kissing and some sex, but no nudity is shown. There are also some bullies and fighting. The movie has several female characters who are beginning to assert their identities, but it also treats many other women as objects. The movie isn't particularly good, but some of the actors come from the Twilight franchise, so teens may be interested.
What's the story?
In the early 1980s in a small Texas town, Ritchie Wheeler (Shiloh Fernandez), wants to be a writer but enjoys his job at the local Skateland roller rink. He likes drinking, partying, and hanging out with his buddies, including motorcycle racer/hometown hero Brent (Heath Freeman). He's close friends with Brent's pretty little sister, Michelle (Ashley Greene); she clearly has feelings for him, but he's still drawn to his blond ex. Unfortunately, times are changing, and the roller rink is shutting down soon. Worse, Brent attracts some unwanted attention when he begins dating the ex-girlfriend of a nasty bully. Will Ritchie be drawn irreversibly into a small-town soap opera for the rest of his life, or will his writing talent take him to a more promising future?
Is it any good?
Anthony Burns makes his directorial debut with this aimless coming-of-age tale, which happens to be about an equally aimless hero; Ritchie never really takes any action of his own. The movie tries to capture the mood of a time and place, but instead the scenes feel arbitrary and sometimes even pointless. Even the camera never seems certain about being in the right place. Some shots appear to have been captured accidentally or randomly.
SKATELAND has an interesting sub-theme with its female characters: Ritchie's mother splits up from his dad and gets her own apartment, and his younger sister is a take-charge kind of girl. Most of these women appear to be asserting their independence for the first time, but at the same time, the movie allows its male characters to ogle and objectify other female characters. Ultimately, while some of the movie's period details don't seem quite right, it's certainly realistic. But the lesson here is that realism doesn't necessarily translate into interesting cinema.
Talk to your kids about ...
Some of the female characters appear to be asserting their own personalities, but other women are treated as objects or stereotypes. What's the movie's view of women?
Why is it so hard to leave a small town to take your first big step in life? What are the pros and cons of small-town life -- both in reality and in movies/TV shows?
- In theaters: May 13, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 30, 2011
- Cast: Ashley Greene, James LeGros, Shiloh Fernandez
- Director: Anthony Burns
- Studio: Freestyle Releasing
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, some sexuality, language, substance abuse and smoking - involving teens
For kids who love quirky characters
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.