The Influencer

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Influencer Movie Poster Image
Dark satire about social media; sex, drugs, language.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 90 minutes

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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Dark comedy satirizes the egotism and narcissism of social media influencers, and how their words of support for progressive causes don't always match their actions. Sexism and the patriarchy also satirized.

Positive Role Models

No positive role models. Abbie is a self obsessed social media influencer who signs a contract to promote a cosmetics company with questionable ethics in her videos, and is soon taken hostage by Millennial terrorists who strongly disapprove of her decision, but also have come up with an elaborate scheme to profit by causing the company's stock market value to plummet.

Diverse Representations

Movie has a strong feminist perspective, and the lead characters are strong women who have worked hard to get where they are in their careers or criminal schemes, and while the lines between "good" and "bad" are blurred, they're all trying to operate in a male-dominated society that has treated them poorly in their personal and professional lives.

Violence

 Lead character is taken hostage in her home, tied up, and forced to make videos against her will, blackmailed with threats of posting unflattering photos of her on her social media pages. Punches thrown. Lead character's male friend comes over to her house and makes unwanted sexual advances. Newspaper clipping and talk of how one of the hostage takers suffered sexual misconduct in the workplace, and none of the perpetrators were prosecuted for it. Man thrown out of moving vehicle.

Sex

Man trying to have sex with lead character is found to be in possession of sex toys and condoms. Talk of "hooking up."

Language

Profanity often used. "F--k" frequently used. Also: "motherf--ker" used twice, "bulls--t," "s--t," "s--t ton," "p---y," "a--hole," "d--k," "bomb-ass," "goddamn," "bitch."

Consumerism

Movie satirizes, among other things, social media, social media influencers, and how large companies are now spending large sums of money for social media influencers to promote the company's products to the influencers' millions of followers.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cocaine use. Shot drinking in a bar. Headline in newspaper clipping talks of how a "Florida Man" (one of the terrorists who take the lead character hostage) got his whole town high on crystal meth.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Influencer is a 2021 dark comedy in which a social media celebrity is taken hostage after agreeing to endorse makeup produced by an unscrupulous corporation. While tied up and taken hostage and forced to post unflattering pictures of herself, the lead character's sketchy male friend knocks on her door, making demands to enter so they can have sex, and not taking no for an answer. When he's also eventually taken prisoner, it's revealed that he brought with him sex toys and condoms. Headline talks of sexual misconduct in the workplace where one of the characters worked, and how those who perpetrated the acts faced no real consequences for their actions. Cocaine use. Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and "motherf--ker." Headline talks of how a "Florida Man" (one of the main characters) got his entire town high on crystal meth. Shot and booze drinking in a bar. Overall, it's a dark satire that offers a feminist take on the toxic culture of social media and the companies who pay the influencers to influence their followers.

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What's the story?

In THE INFLUENCER, Abbie Rose (Kasia Szarek) is a 29-year-old social media influencer with millions of followers. She seems to be living her best life in Hollywood, despite obsessions with "her brand," petty rivalries on social media with other influencers, interns who would like to be paid for their work, and worries that her influence may soon be on the wane. But when she agrees to sign a contract in which she promotes a line of products manufactured by a large cosmetics company, her life takes a drastic turn. Shortly after signing the contract, her home is invaded by a group of activists who take her hostage. These invaders are online activists who are displeased with Abbie signing this contract, and in retribution, they begin forcing her to make statements on social media that help their cause. If she doesn't, they threaten to post unflattering pictures of her from the photos in her smartphone. As Abbie's latest posts cause confusion among her followers and damage to "the brand," the leader of the activists arrives and explains what it is they're really trying to accomplish, and it's ultimately up to Abbie as to whether or not she wants to remain attached to her identity as an influencer or if she wants to accept the activists' offer and start a new life in the real world, as far away from social media as possible.

Is it any good?

This is a dark satire that never quite lands as it careens back and forth between comedy and social commentary. Most of the attempts at humor fall flat, no matter whether it's going for the deeper messages that satire is supposed to convey through humor, or obvious worn-out jokes about "Florida Man" or coked-out idiot men obsessed with casual sex. It doesn't really say anything most people haven't already figured out about the vapid culture of questionable celebrity that surrounds social media influencers, the chasm between one's social media persona and who they are "IRL," and how online political activism like wearing a shirt that says "Feminist" is the laziest form of protest that exists today. All of this can and should be satirized, but with the way it's presented in this movie, there's nothing new. 

The characters themselves are inconsistent, obvious, and obnoxious. The lead character, Abbie, weaves back and forth between vapid hypocritical internet princess and savvy feminist Millennial who posts popular video content because, apparently, it's the only real way to afford Life in Los Angeles. The activists who take her hostage are, for the most part, equally all over the place. It's like the characters are speaking preachy messages rather than dialogue that could also, in skilled hands, communicate the messages. Everything and everyone is satirized, and as a result, nothing is effectively satirized. It's a lot of time and effort to say nothing new, and even the money scam the activists are ultimately trying to pull seems like something as ludicrous as what was tried in Superman III and Office Space.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about social media after watching The Influencer. What does this movie parody about not only social media influencers, but also society as a whole?

  • How does the movie offer a feminist critique and satire of the culture that has grown out of social media?

  • Over the course of the movie, we begin to see the gap between Abbie's social media persona and who she is "IRL." How are these two identities shown to contrast earlier in the movie, and how does this change by the time we reach the end?

Movie details

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