Parents' Guide to

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Sex, drugs in mature, meandering tales of varying quality.

Movie NR 2017 97 minutes
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Critics frequently dismiss movies by comparing them to student films -- and watching this meandering series of unconnected stories, which was literally Franco's student film, demonstrates why. Franco has assembled a very talented cast (just which favors did he have to call in from his A-list friends?), but since the seven vignettes showcased here are of such widely varying quality -- and since it's unclear exactly how they're connected or what conclusions we're supposed to draw from them being grouped together -- the whole movie is a bit of a forehead-wrinkler.

The best of the stories connect with viewers due to the actors' idiosyncratic charm. Wiig, always fun to watch, brings a little sparkle to her part as an outwardly sedate single mom/aspiring actress working as a house cleaner, whose inner life is full of satin sheets and red carpets. Jacob Loeb is compelling as a dead-eyed kid who moves to a new town hoping to find some fun and a girlfriend and instead becomes embroiled in a cover-up. But in between, there are a lot of "where is this going?" moments and clunky dialogue, the worst of which is uttered by poor Tamblyn as an off-balance sister. "The combined IQ of a colony of ants exceeds that of the average U.S. senator," she says, before telling a metaphorical story about a pair of famous monkeys who became a fish and a bird who could no longer understand each other's language. Franco completists will be the main audience for The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, a curiosity that ultimately doesn't go much of anywhere.

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