A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even though this indie dramedy has a fairly good heart, it's full of iffy adult behavior like sex, theft, and drugs. The film begins with the main character stealing a car and proceeds to include plenty of talk about sex (including an interlude on the set of a porn film), strong language ("f--k" and many derivations thereof), drinking, smoking, and more. Teens who are into alternative music may be interested in the film since it marks the first collaboration of hipster musician M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel, who've since released an album together, but if they watch, be prepared to talk about the characters' conduct.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In Eugene, Ore., smart, sad teen Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci) impulsively steals a car and sets out on the open road looking for his roaming, troubled half-brother Arlen so to tell him of their mother's death. Mercer gets a phone call from the car's owner, Kate (Zooey Deschanel), who knows who he is; she says she won't call the cops, but asks Mercer to check in from the road. As Mercer drives through the West -- Oregon, Nevada, California, and Mexico -- in pursuit of Arlen, he builds a relationship with Kate via telephone as he encounters a variety of other interesting characters.
Is it any good?
Road trips, minor crimes, major tragedies, big actors in small parts, sex and drugs and love set to an ace soundtrack -- THE GO-GETTER incorporates a lot of indie-film cliches. And while it's well-made enough, it doesn't really distinguish itself from the crowd, either. Pucci's Mercer seems curiously passive -- he's a reactive character, even as he actively seeks out his half-brother -- and Deschanel's Kate is another indie-film cliche, a plucky life-affirming sprite who puts up with the male lead's bad behavior solely because doing otherwise would end the film.
Directed and written by Martin Hynes,The Go-Getter is certainly well-made, with some nicely inventive and expressive shots and a few good lines. (Mercer, who's living with one of his teachers after his mother's death, explains to Kate how that's going: "I make them nervous. If you don't watch enough TV, you make people nervous.") At the same time, those moments don't add up to much of a whole. The Go-Getter feels, regrettably, more generic than inspired -- as if it was made out of parts from other, better, independent films that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Even the substantial charms of Pucci and Deschanel can't make The Go-Getter feel unique or significantly different from the other independent films it resembles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ongoing appeal of road-trip stories. What do they tend to have in common? Is this one different? What other movies can you think of that deal with similar themes? Families can also discuss the characters' choices. Is Mercer's quest admirable, even though he has to steal a car to do it? Why doesn't Kate call the cops on him? Finally, how does the movie contrast the real American West with the stories, songs, and images we're familiar with?
- In theaters: June 6, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2008
- Cast: Jena Malone, Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel
- Director: Martin Hynes
- Studio: Peace Arch Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, some sexual content and drug use.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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