A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this thriller is being heavily marketed to teens, so many of them will want to see it. Expect a fair amount of swearing and mild sexuality and plenty of teen-on-teen violence and criminality, much of which is perpetuated by a highly dysfunctional girl who lies, cheats, steals, and kills. The main character has a distant relationship with his mother, whom he secretly resents for expecting him to be perfect.
What's the story?
Ambitious high schooler Nick (Justin Chatwin) is thrown into a supernatural dimension after a run-in with delinquent classmate Annie (Margarita Levieva) and her henchmen in the thriller, THE INVISIBLE. Convinced that Nick ratted on them, Annie and her gang viciously attack Nick and throw his limp body into a manhole in the woods. Nick isn't quite dead, but he's not really alive, either, and his spirit must get someone to help his physical body before he succumbs. Nick haunts his perfectionist mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and his best friend, but he mostly hangs around Annie. She's guilt-ridden but unwilling to confess, even though the cops know she's involved. Her family life is messed up, Nick discovers, so perhaps her bad choices -- like accidentally offing him -- aren't really her fault. As out-of-body Nick continues to try to communicate with Annie, he becomes convinced she's his only hope.
Is it any good?
Most teens aren't serious film buffs, but even casual movie-going adolescents know the difference between a compelling, well-crafted high-school flick and a muddled mess like The Invisible. What's most ridiculous about this film -- even by teen-drama standards -- is that eventually Nick and Annie develop a thing for each other. (Apparently being a ghost makes you extra forgiving, especially if your killer is gorgeous beneath her hoodie and skullcap.) In one scene, Nick has to repress his invisible-man urge to spy on her in the shower. And Annie, for some preposterous reason, decides to crash into Nick's room, where she caresses his face in old albums as if he'd been her boyfriend instead of, you know, the guy she bloodied.
By the time the climactic hospital scene occurs, it's hard to care whether Nick or Annie are ghosts, semi-conscious, or just plain dead or alive. But as long as teens buy tickets, the studios will just keep churning out these laughable stories.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about parental expectations and gender issues. It's unusual for a teen thriller to have a female villain like this one -- instead of a catty high school "mean girl," she's aggressive, violent, and in many ways "masculine." Do parents expect different behavior from boys than they do from girls? Why? Does the media play a role in establishing those expectations? If so, how?
- In theaters: April 27, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 16, 2007
- Cast: Justin Chatwin, Marcia Gay Harden, Margarita Levieva
- Director: David S. Goyer
- Studio: Buena Vista
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, criminality, sensuality and language -- all involving teens.
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