Stella's Last Weekend

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Stella's Last Weekend Movie Poster Image
Strong language in touching dramedy about family, dog.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Encourages honesty, conversation among family and loved ones. Characters learn that kindness, patience are also important.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are quite likable, but they're also fairly troubled and highly flawed. Their behavior ranges from questionable to awful, but as movie closes they're beginning to learn.

Violence

Brothers have a big, brawling fight. A dog dies of natural causes. Stories of other dead dogs.

Sex

Extremely frank, frequent sex talk and innuendo, including gestures indicating sex. One character kisses someone and sleeps with another (offscreen). Teen couple shown in bed together. Character undresses down to her underwear to go swimming. A character pulls down his pants to photograph his bottom; it's shown from the side.

Language

Very strong, frequent language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "a--hole," "ass," "d--ks," "boobs," "bitch," "hos," "balls," "monster wang," "bang," plus "Jesus H. Christ" and middle-finger gestures.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A grown son and his mother smoke pot together. (Idea is to blow smoke on the sick dog to make her feel better.) The mother gets "really stoned." Wine at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stella's Last Weekend is a thoughtful, touching indie dramedy about a family preparing for their sick dog's farewell party (she's going to be euthanized). It encourages honesty among loved ones, but it also includes a lot of crass sex talk, innuendo, and sexual gestures. Characters kiss, and sex is suggested between a high school-age boy and a slightly older woman. In one scene, a woman strips to her lacy underwear to swim; in another, the side of a character's naked bottom is seen. Language is also very strong and frequent, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "a--hole," and more. Two brothers (who are in love with the same woman) have a brawling fight, and the dog's death (of natural causes) is shown. One brother and his mom smoke pot; she gets "really stoned." Wine glasses are seen at dinner. This keenly observed movie has strong characters but suffers from a too-neat final stretch; still, it's likable enough for many teens and adults to get behind. Real-life brothers Nat Wolff and Alex Wolff star.

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What's the story?

In STELLA'S LAST WEEKEND, Jack (Nat Wolff) comes home from college to attend a farewell party for his beloved dog, Stella, who's sick and scheduled to be euthanized. In the subway, Jack spots a girl, Violet (Paulina Singer), who he was in love with but who refused to return his calls. Later, Jack's younger brother, Oliver (Alex Wolff), introduces his new girlfriend ... Violet. A misunderstanding between Violet and Jack is cleared up, and she realizes that she's still attracted to him. Over the course of several days, as they try to spend time with their dog, tensions arise between the brothers, as well as between their loving but pushover mom, Sally (Polly Draper), and Sally's well-meaning but dopey boyfriend, Ron (Nick Sandow). Unfortunately, everything comes to a head at Stella's party. Can the brothers make everything right again?

Is it any good?

This effective indie dramedy unravels a bit in the end as it eagerly attempts to wrap up each and every one of its conflicts, but before then it's a rowdy, touching, keenly observed slice of life. Written and directed by Draper, who also plays mom Sally, Stella's Last Weekend doesn't shy away from complicated parent-teen relationships -- or, in fact, relationships of many kinds.

Oliver stands out as a sometimes rude, sometimes funny extrovert who claims that he has his mom "working for me." He shakes things up with his completely uncensored comments while wearing his emotions on his sleeve (Alex Wolff was also quite powerful in Hereditary). The other characters are perfectly matched to him; Sally laughs at his comments and gives in to his demands, while Ron can only be exasperated and ineffective. Jack, the quietest character, is the movie's entry point. Violet can seem a little flighty, a little fickle. Draper's visualization is assured and unflashy, with subtle moments like characters gazing at each other through the windows of an arcade claw machine. Many scenes, especially those involving the aging, motherly love bug Stella, will make viewers reach for the tissues. It's too bad it ends like a series of check boxes, but Stella's Last Weekend is still well worth seeing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Stella's Last Weekend depicts sex. How does Oliver view sex? Is it something to be accomplished, to brag about? Or is it about connecting?

  • What is the relationship between the brothers like? Do they talk honestly with each other? Do they like each other? How is their relationship similar to or different from yours with your siblings?

  • Is the characters' drug use glamorized in any way? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How did you feel about the movie showing the dog's death? Was it done respectfully? Have you ever had a beloved pet die? What was the experience like?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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