A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Swiped is a comedy that finds a serious-minded college freshman goaded into creating an app that will facilitate casual sexual hook-ups. The app is a resounding success until the hero has second thoughts about what he has done. While there's no actual sexual activity in the movie, sex is on almost everyone's mind throughout. Other than the hero, most of the other characters are stereotypically lascivious males and clueless females, who appear to go along willingly to accommodate the "boys." The girls post sexy photographs of themselves online. A couple is seen in bed. Language includes some swearing: "s--t," "d--k," "putz," "hell," "crap," and some insults: "dork," "slutty girls," and "virgin" as a slur. A loud fart is heard; one young man vomits. Alcohol is consumed by adults in several social settings; in one, the hero's mom gets drunk. College-age kids drink. Routine messages about the value of solid relationships, respecting oneself, and the pitfalls of a thoughtless encounter are integrated into the story.
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What's the story?
James Singer (Kendall Ryan Sanders) is an earnest, smart, but shy college freshman in SWIPED. Of course, James gets the most popular, and horniest, roommate in the dorm, Lance Black (Noah Centineo), whose ideal "hook-up" is a hot girl who won't ask his name, won't stay all night, and expects no second contact. When Lance realizes the depth of James' computer skills, he makes the brainy coder an offer he can't refuse. If James can create and manage an app that facilitates such nearly anonymous liaisons, he'll pay for James to go to an elite college that he otherwise can't afford. James reluctantly agrees. He creates, he manages, and "Jungle" becomes an online sensation. Campus coeds are more than willing to post pictures of themselves in scanty underwear, and the app takes off. When James realizes what mischief he has wrought (his own recently divorced mother signs up!), he's horrified. He immediately shuts the app down ... too soon for those whose fondest dreams have just been realized, and just in time for others to re-evaluate what really matters in a relationship.
Is it any good?
Take the digital factor out of this trite comedy and what's left is a decades-old premise with good intentions, bad execution, and one-dimensional characters looking for love or random sex. Satirizing randy males who want anonymous sex and clueless girls who go along because they feel powerless loses its force when those scenes and those characters monopolize the screen. Lessons are learned in Swiped, but perfunctorily -- e.g., a womanizing ex-husband with "ditzy blond" issues comes back to his wife because she looks pretty at a party. Values are glossed over. Internal logic is missing, too. No one creates and launches an app in what appears to be days. A young man who desperately needs funds to attend a fine college probably shouldn't be coming home for the holidays to very rich grandparents who live in a mansion. Writer-director-producer Ann Deborah Fishman got very lucky when she cast Noah Centineo as one of the leads. He's soaring in Netflix romcoms and should bring some fans to this forgettable effort.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the digital age as it relates to sex. Why is it important to be aware of the dangers and downside of posting information and photographs on the web and other devices? What, if anything, did Swiped add to the conversation?
With the exceptions of Hannah and Professor Barnes, how does this film portray the female characters (including James' mother and grandmother)? Do they seem realistic to you, especially in terms of cultural norms today? Are women and girls letting the males in their circle run the show as Lance and his friends do? How would you expect people you know to react to such treatment?
With the exception of James, how does this film portray the male characters? Do they seem realistic? From your experience, have at least some boys and men evolved over time?
Why did James interview and ask questions of his grandparents and their friends? How was he planning to use the information he received? Did he follow through?
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