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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Edge of Seventeen is a high school dramedy about an awkward teen (Hailee Steinfeld). The swearing, sexuality, and themes make it appropriate for mature high schoolers and up. Frequently used language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--khead," and more, and the sexual content includes a social media message that lists out graphic things the main character would like to do with -- and to -- her crush. There are also a couple of scenes of teens making out and in bed. One scene briefly appears to border on nonconsensual sex; a girl asks whether a guy wants to have sex, then says she was kidding when he takes her seriously. Teens drink alcohol at parties and at home (no adults are present), sometimes to the point of throwing up. The main character lost her father four years before the movie's events take place. Despite the strong language and underage substance use, the movie actually encourages communication and could open the door for thought-provoking discussions between parents and teens.
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What's the story?
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN is a coming-of-age dramedy about awkward 17-year-old Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld). Still grieving her father's death four years after it happened, Nadine discovers that her ridiculously popular older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), is hooking up with her best (and only) friend, Krista (Hailey Lu Richardson). This makes her feels utterly alone -- and leads to her making unwise decisions like accidentally sending a sexually explicit message to her longtime crush, Nick (Alexander Calvert). Fed up with life's unfairness, Nadine turns to her tough-talking but kind teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), while also getting closer to sweetly smitten classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto).
Is it any good?
Steinfeld's wonderfully nuanced, authentic portrayal of the delightfully opinionated, angst-ridden, and awkward Nadine turns this sometimes-edgy high school comedy into a touching gem. Steinfeld, who's 19 in real life, is likely to stop playing high schoolers soon, so there's something magically poignant about her expressive performance as a deep-thinking, grieving 17-year-old who only has one real friend. All of the performances are outstanding, actually, starting with Steinfeld and continuing through Nadine's core group of supporting characters, including Harrelson as her long-suffering teacher who secretly thinks she's great, Kyra Sedgwick as her clueless mom who openly favors her brother, Richardson and Jenner as her suddenly-in-love brother and bestie, and Szeto as her adorable suitor. There isn't a weak link in the entire ensemble.
Through Nadine, writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig captures the pathos of being a lonely hearted teen who's unsure of her value, her place in the world, and her own beauty. When Nadine ignores Erwin's interest because she's pining for bad-boy pet store clerk Nick, older audiences will want to yell "Noooo, look at the wonderful guy right next to you!" But in the midst of her adolescent angst, Nadine can't quite see that yet. Several scenes are cringe-worthy and uncomfortable, but who among us didn't feel that as a teen? There's a quiet power to Nadine's emotional fragility and what she learns about herself and the people who love and support her. Parents not easily embarrassed by seeing mature content alongside their teens should watch and discuss the issues explored in this heartfelt adolescent movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the risky teen behavior depicted in The Edge of Seventeen. Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?
Do you think the movie glamorizes drinking? What about sex? How much sexual content in movies is appropriate for kids?
Are there any healthy romantic relationships in the movie? Do you consider any of them role models for dating teens?
- In theaters: November 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 14, 2017
- Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner
- Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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