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 Last Summer is a Netflix teen romantic comedy. A group of graduating high school seniors have life-changing experiences during their "last" summer before moving on to college and/or the rest of their lives. The two lead characters are a budding filmmaker and a musician. Connected by friendships, others in the crew have tales to tell as well. Romance and sexuality (including "first times") are integral to their stories. While there's no nudity, there is revealing clothing (bikinis) and lots of sexual conversation (condoms, infidelity). Characters kiss, embrace, and engage in foreplay in one intimate scene (shown in head shots, with bare shoulders). Other sexual activity is implied rather than explicit. Viewers can expect swearing, including "butt-ass naked," "s--t," "boner," "crap," "blow me," "penis," and one use of "f--k." Underage drinking (beer) occurs at numerous parties. In one instance, an adult is drunk; in another, a parent is heavily under the influence of Vicodin.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Griffin (KJ Apa) and Phoebe (Maia Mitchell) fall in love in THE LAST SUMMER. Though Phoebe wants to focus on making a short film that will help her earn a scholarship, Griffin is smitten and persistent. It's a good thing, until family issues threaten to mess up their relationship. In other intercut stories: Alec (Jacob Latimore) and Erin (Halston Sage), hoping to make their college separation less painful, decide to break up early, with mixed results. Two geeky, socially inept graduates, Reese (Mario Revolori) and Chad (Jacob McCarthy), resolve to make up for lost time -- especially with girls -- and find themselves in a situation that's way over their heads. Audrey (Sosie Bacon), distressed that she's only wait-listed at her college "safety school," finds a job taking care of a child actress whose mom is problematic; for Audrey, that is life-changing.
Is it any good?
Some engaging performances and thoughtful storylines get lost in this mixed bag of overpopulated teen clichés, one-note characters, and silly situations. Teen viewers can decide for themselves whether or not the characters and the situations ring true. The most original relationship -- between an insecure teen and the little girl she cares for -- results in truly meaningful growth for both of them. When two socially stunted smart boys launch affairs with grown-up women, it's both funny and unsavory, just as it would have been if it were young girls being seduced by older men. The central romance between Griffin and Phoebe is predictable yet satisfying. Unfortunately, the "boy-loses-girl" segment raises the issue of kids dealing with parents' infidelity, a sensitive topic that is given little attention here. Too many stories, so little time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the underage drinking in The Last Summer. It appears to be a given here that folks in their late teens consume alcohol at parties and other social events. Do you think that media (particularly films like this one) contribute to an overall casual attitude about teen drinking? Were there any consequences for the kids?
Think of some of the stereotypes in this movie: the airhead rich girl, the nerdy smart boys, Lilah's "stage mother." Do you think stereotyping is OK when it's meant to be funny? Why or why not? Do you think even comic stereotypes normalize such caricatures?
What is meant by the statement "I need you to not judge my version of success." Why is that a meaningful concept?
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