Small Town Crime
By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Crime thriller has alcoholism, drunk driving, violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages in violent noir drama.
Positive Role Models
The lead character is an alcoholic former cop who gets kicked out of bars and drives drunk.
Violence & Scariness
Gun violence. A police officer gets shot and killed during a routine traffic stop, then the assailant is shot and killed, as well as someone who was tied up in the assailant's trunk. Characters shot and killed at point-blank range. Dead bodies, blood. Violent shootout during climactic scene. Lead character tossed out of a bar. Character pistol-whipped, shown injured later.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lead character sleeps with a prostitute as a way to get information about a recently-murdered prostitute, no nudity. Talk of having sex with more than one prostitute at the same time.
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Frequent profanity, including "motherf--ker." Also: "a--hole," "s--t," "dips--t," "bulls--t," "p---y," "pr--k," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "crap," "hell." Middle finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lead character is an alcoholic who lost his job as a cop when his partner was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop and he was drunk at the time. His car is sloppily parked across his front yard while he sits in his garage drinking beer and popping prescription pills. He is shown driving drunk. Drinking in bars -- beer, shots, cocktails. Drug paraphernalia discovered in a bedroom.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Small Town Crime is a 2017 crime thriller in which a former cop with a drinking problem finds a dead woman on the side of the road and sets out to find her killer. There's a lot of drinking in this movie, including scenes of drunk driving. The lead character is shown popping pills and drinking beer while working out in his garage, as his car is parked haphazardly on the lawn and the driveway. The dead woman was a prostitute, and the former cop sleeps with a prostitute as a way to get information. Gun violence, including characters shot and killed at close range, and characters found murdered and covered in blood. Lead character shown getting pistol-whipped. Regular profanity, including "motherf—ker," "a--hole," "s--t," "dips--t," "bulls--t," "p---y," "pr--k," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "crap," "hell." Cigarette smoking. Car chase scenes.
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Small Town Crime
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What's the Story?
In SMALL TOWN CRIME, Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) is a former cop who was fired for being drunk while his partner was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. Now, he's trying to find a way to get back into being a cop again, collecting unemployment and spending the rest of his time binge drinking and getting kicked out of bars. One morning, after another epic bender in which he wakes up on the side of the road, Kendall drives home but stops when he sees what looks to be a dead body near the side of the road. It's a young woman, barely alive, and Kendall takes her to the hospital, but it's too late. Kendall decides to track down the killer, seeing it as a possible path to redemption. He begins to go to dangerous and risky lengths to track down this killer, putting himself in unpleasant contact with pimps, prostitutes, and hitmen. Soon, his detective work puts not only himself in danger, but also his best friend Teddy (Anthony Anderson) and his sister Kelly (Octavia Spencer). As Mike makes unexpected alliances with those also looking to avenge the murder, he must stop the murders that keep happening, and find out who is really behind it all.
Is It Any Good?
This is an excellent crime thriller involving a flawed lead character trying to redeem himself. Small Town Crime is a movie drenched in alcoholism and violence, as Mike Kendall (played by John Hawkes), a former cop who got fired for being drunk on the job while his partner was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop, tries to prove his worth after driving home from a bender one morning and finding a dying young prostitute on the road. The more he tries to prove that he's not a colossal screw-up, the more he screws up (or worse) the lives of those in his orbit. And yet, for all of his many faults and for all the trouble he causes while going to tremendous and questionable lengths to solve this murder mystery, Kendall isn't unlikeable. Of course, we've seen this type of antiheroism before, but it's this redemption component to the movie that really makes it stand out.
The movie also does a great job of economically creating a seedy world of rough bars and shady characters. Even the most minor of characters brings something to the movie so they stand out and heighten what's going on. They go beyond the lazy archetypes or stereotypes that so often foul up gritty crime action thrillers such as this one. Every element works together to create an enjoyable story and a satisfying conclusion. It's the kind of movie that pays heed to the conventions of noir stories while still carving out a space all its own.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about crime thrillers like Small Town Crime. How does this compare to other crime thrillers you've seen?
How is the lead character an antihero? In what ways is he likable, in spite of his many flaws? Why do you think there's such an appeal for antiheroes in movies and TV shows?
How does the movie show drinking? Does it glamorize it, or does it show how it can cause problems for some? Why is it important for there to be consequences shown?
- In theaters: May 24, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2021
- Cast: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer
- Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: 6 Foot Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Strong violence, language and some sexual references.
- Last updated: December 1, 2022
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