Slam

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Slam Movie Poster Image
Book-based romcom about teen pregnancy; cursing, drugs.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As a coming-of-age story about teen pregnancy and the ways in which some teen parents deal with the major responsibilities of child rearing, the movie is even-handed and not preachy, but no real positive messages emerge. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real positive role models. 

Violence

Comedic pratfall violence, most typically involving falling off or running into someone while on a skateboard. 

Sex

Brief female nudity, breasts. Teens have sex, don't always use condoms. Recurring joke about how the teen boy does not last for more than a minute or so in bed before ejaculating; this mirrors how Tony Hawk describes his early sexual experiences in the autobiography read by the lead character and narrated by Hawk. 

Language

Occasional profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "hell." 

Consumerism

As a counterpoint to the story, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk does a voiceover of his autobiography as the lead character reads it and finds parallels with his own life. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lead character's friend spikes his drink with ecstasy while they are at the skatepark. He drinks it anyway and then appears blissed-out as he rides his skateboard. His father smokes marijuana. Teens smoke cigarettes. Champagne and beer drinking at a party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Slam is a 2017 Netflix Original movie based on a Nick Hornby novel about a teen boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant at the same age his mother had him. There's teenage sex, with and without condoms; no nudity aside from brief glimpse of breasts, not during sex. A recurring joke involves how the lead character doesn't last very long during sex; this mirrors comments made by pro skater Tony Hawk, who does voiceover of the narrative of his autobiography that the lead character reads. The movie is in Italian with English subtitles. While skating with friends, the lead character's best friend spikes his drink with ecstasy to help him relax from the stresses of teen fatherhood; the lead character is then shown with a blissed-out smile as he skates. His irresponsible father is shown smoking marijuana. Some smoking and drinking. Occasional profanity, including "f--k." Overall, the movie presents an even-handed depiction of the challenges teen parents face when they're trying to raise their baby while still growing up themselves. 

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What's the story?

In SLAM, Sam is an intelligent Roman teenager who idolizes Tony Hawk and lives to skateboard with his friends. During an adult party he is forced to attend, he meets the dry-humored and perceptive Alice, and begin dating shortly after; the "dates," more often than not, are just as likely to center on sex as they might on sitting in the park and listening to music through shared earbuds. While they usually practice safe sex, they don't always, and Alice suspects, then confirms, that she's pregnant. This happens right as Sam has broken up with her; when he gets the news, he realizes that he will be a father at 16 -- the same age his mother was when she had him. As Sam struggles to meet the responsibilities of impending fatherhood while still trying to succeed in school and have a social life, Alice resents that she can't have any of those things. Sam's father, a self-centered malcontent, shirked his fatherly responsibilities with Sam. Sam must find a way to grow up without growing old, and, despite his failed relationship with Alice, be the father to his son that Sam's father never was to him. 

Is it any good?

Based on the Nick Hornby novel, this movie manages to avoid the many traps and cliches so often seen in stories centered on teen pregnancy. Slam avoids preachiness and painfully forced editorializing on the topic, and finds a sweet humor in the coming-of-age imperfections of the teen characters, and of the equally overwhelmed grandparents-to-be. And while music aficionado Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, among other music-centric books) can't help but give his characters musical tastes more rooted in 1995 than 2017, it doesn't feel as if an adult screenwriter was trying to shoehorn in the relatively sophisticated musical tastes of an avid record collector onto their teen characters (Juno, ahem ahem). 

The result is an honest and thoughtful exploration into what happens when teens take on the responsibility of raising a child while still growing up themselves. And so, the comedy and drama is rooted not in a "message" per se, but in the awkwardness and challenge inherent in the undertaking. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies like Slam with teen sex. What are some of the ways in which movies past and present have addressed this issue? 

  • This was a film based on a novel by Nick Hornby. What would be the challenges in adapting a novel into a movie? 

  • How does this movie address drug and alcohol use by teens? Are any of these glamorized, or are they presented as a fact of life for many teenagers? 

Movie details

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