A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although younger viewers might be drawn to this film by star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it features bloody, harrowing violence, lots of swearing ("f--k" and then some), and brief sexual imagery. A car accident is repeated from different angles throughout the film, and flashbacks showcase the aggression of hockey in short, handheld takes. But the goriest violence involves shootings (with handguns and shotguns) that result in bloody bodies. There are some brief glimpses of naked bottoms and other sexual scenes and characters drink (some to drunkenness), smoke cigarettes and pot, take prescription pills, and talk about meth production.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Four years after a fatal prom-night accident, once popular athlete Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) struggles just to get through his days. When erstwhile exotic dancer Luvlee (Isla Fisher) and a crew of aspiring bank robbers led by young thug Gary (Matthew Goode) recruit Chris, they give him what he thinks he's lost since the accident -- masculine community and sex with a girl -- as well as a break from his routine. Apparently lacking the capacity for self-reflection on top of everything else, Chris signs on.
Is it any good?
As viewers are steps ahead of Chris by definition, this convoluted thriller's approximation of his self-storytelling method reveals itself right away. Gary and Luvlee are untrustworthy schemers, affiliated with a very grim-looking shooter named Bone (Greg Dunham, channeling Lance Henriksen), and true-blue Lewis is not only nosy and protective, but also vulnerable and loyal. None of this would be surprising in the standard heist movie, and it's not here.
This means that Gordon-Levitt has a lot of work to do, convincing viewers that Chris is processing his ordinary experiences in an extraordinary way. For the most part, he's up to it. Chris' awkward gait and puzzled face make his former life look long-lost and his current life nearly unfathomable. Until the movie loses its own way (a bloody retribution resolution falls flat), this young actor makes Chris' erratic efforts to read himself and his world look engaged and engaging.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether anyone in this movie can be considered a role model. Does Lewis provide a positive model for Chris? What about Chris' own father, who refuses to help him? Can what happens to Chris be considered a metaphor for how people change after high school? How does the movie compare his former happy life with his current limited and depressed existence?