A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The House of Tomorrow is a coming-of-age drama that revolves around a teen punk rock band (the titular house is one that was designed by R. Buckminster Fuller). Some lessons are learned, but there's also some iffy behavior to contend with. Teens kiss, and there's a sexual situation involving teens (a boy lies on top of a girl, fully clothed, and grinds while kissing her). An adult magazine is briefly glimpsed, and there's innuendo. Language is quite strong, with several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," "c--k," "p---y," and more. A teen smokes regularly, and alcohol is available at a rock show for teens. Adults also drink and smoke. There's brief fighting among teen boys (shoving and wrestling), plus arguing and mosh pit dancing. A character is the recipient of a donor heart; his scar is shown.
What's the story?
In THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW, Sebastian (Asa Butterfield) has been raised and home-schooled by his grandmother, Josephine (Ellen Burstyn), in a geodesic dome house designed by the late R. Buckminster Fuller. Josephine knew "Bucky" when he was alive and, together, she and Sebastian conduct tours while also avoiding the outside world. Then a tour bus holding a church youth group arrives; the group is led by Alan (Nick Offerman) and includes Alan's rebellious, moody son, Jared (Alex Wolff). Jared is a recent donor-heart recipient, and his overprotective father won't let him overtax himself. Nonetheless, Jared offers to give Sebastian "punk rock" lessons, and as they become mismatched friends, they decide to start their own punk band. Sebastian starts sneaking away from his grandma to practice and eventually lies to her in order to play a show at the dome. Meanwhile, Sebastian finds himself stirred by Jared's catty but cute sister, Meredith (Maude Apatow).
Is it any good?
As a coming-of-age story, this dramedy is a little too cute and neat, especially given that it's about shabby, edgy punk rock. But its flawless casting and chemistry lend it a goodwill that's hard to resist. Adapted from a novel by Peter Bognanni, The House of Tomorrow is the feature debut of writer/director Peter Livolsi, and it's a clean, polished little story, with no offending edges. Whether real-life teens will recognize any of the behaviors of these movie teens remains to be seen, but the characters are certainly likable.
Butterfield and Wolff make fun opposites, with Butterfield conveying a life of sheltered inexperience. Wolff, meanwhile, expresses a full appreciation for a music genre that ignited well before his lifetime (his room is decorated like a 1980s club, scrawled with deep-listen band names). Likewise, Burstyn is tough and wonderful (a real-life photograph shows that she did, in fact, know Fuller) and Offerman manages to be his usual snidely funny self while still conveying a father's care and concern. Livolsi uses the dome house like a wonderland, making it seem like a special place that's the opposite of the other locations in the movie; he develops a physical struggle between spaces. Overall, there's not much at stake here, and not much is risked, but The House of Tomorrow is a home where the heart is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The House of Tomorrow depicts sex. What values are imparted? Do you think the characters are too young for sexual activity?
Why are the parents in this movie so protective? Teens: Have your parents ever been too protective? How did that work out?
Who was Buckminster Fuller? What does this movie teach you about him? Are you interested in learning more?
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