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Parents' Guide to


By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Powerful, intense tragicomedy walks in Gen Z's shoes.

Movie R 2020 97 minutes
Spontaneous Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 18+

Waste of Time

I wouldn’t want my children to see this movie full of negative messages, drug use and sexual situations. Main female and her sidekick look closer to 30 than 17 and overall I can’t see any socially redeeming message to warrant why this movie was made or why common sense media’s review would have any positive remakes regarding this film.
age 18+

Main review is misleading - this film has near constant drug use and pushes a heavy pro-drug message. The film actually ends with the main character achieving her life's goal to sit on a porch and smoke pot. Also, depicts using drugs together as a family. No joke.

The main review is completely misleading (Why?) and minimizes the constant drug use and heavy pro-drug message of the film. The film opens with the main character explaining that her and her best friend's goal is to sit on a porch and smoke pot all day like some old ladies they saw as kids. When the kids start dying, the main character uses (you guessed it) more drugs to figure everything out. This includes mushrooms, lots of pot smoking, pill taking. This is all portrayed as cool and no big deal. Her parents encourage it, and they decide it is important to smoke pot as a family (no exaggeration) to get through this tough time (Not a direct quote but dad basically says “Hey daughter, it is time for you to smoke with me and your mom. Use my pipe.”) In the end, (after all the kids are cured), the main character grows and finally develops the courage to achieve her life goal - to sit on a porch with her friend and smoke pot. Wonderful, deep message. It almost seems quaint when the main character is simply drunk, and teaching her father how to mix drinks. Beyond the drug issues, the film is slow, repetitive and misses every opportunity to use its interesting premise. The main character is supposed to be in high school, but she looks and sounds like a jaded 28-year-old waitress who is pretty unlikable. At one point, another girl in school mentions Jesus and the main character points at her and hatefully screams “whore” for no reason other than apparent bigotry. She is also bummed that the death of her classmate ruins the message of her “Carrie” Halloween costume. This is the depth of this film. You know that a character is saying something profound because they use the f-word to punctuate their deep thoughts. In tone, all of the characters are so constantly glib that the film does not play as a dark comedy. It is a boring repeat of the characters being to cool for life (“I was like, ‘whatever’”), and then feeling "super bummed" when someone dies. This repeats like 5 times and the film never moves beyond the most superficial lines. The premise had so much potential, but this film is completely inarticulate and boring. Enjoy the trailer and skip the movie. You will not get your 2 hrs. back.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (5 ):

Not since Heathers has a such a quirky, funny, wholly original, yet horrifyingly relatable tragicomic romance summed up the experience of many contemporary teens. Spontaneous' concept is bonkers -- the senior class literally starts exploding -- and remarkably, the laughs come hard. But halfway through, the tears come harder, and the quirky storyline becomes painfully resonant. Writer/first-time director Brian Duffield (adapting his screenplay from Aaron Starmer's novel) masterfully balances the film's tone, weaving together a sweet blooming romance, sarcastic and expressive dialogue ("she was a sundress of a person"), and moments of genuine terror and airsucking despair. For parents and caregivers who struggle to understand the mental health challenges that many among Gen Z face, Spontaneous is a powerful metaphor.

Langford takes a 180-degree turn from her suicide-focused 13 Reasons Why character; Mara's story is all about realizing that if you can just hang on until graduation, you may be lucky enough to have more opportunities awaiting you. The film's tone flips after one devastating, heart-piercing scene which is so transportive that, for some, it could be too much. Unlike when Daniel Waters wrote Heathers in the 1980s, deadly violence in school is all too prevalent now. Even though Spontaneous doesn't directly indicate what the explosions are supposed to represent, it's a forceful empathizer. And as emotional as the film gets as we go off the deep end with Mara, it ends with a burst of robust hope that could be enough to buoy some teens through tough times.

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