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 second installment in the hugely popular Twilight saga is darker and a bit more violent than the first movie, but not enough to make it inappropriate for teens, especially those who've read the books. That said, the relationship at the core of the story is obsessive and intense -- Bella's entire sense of self worth is wrapped up in being with Edward, which isn't the greatest example for young fans, who could get the wrong idea of what love is "supposed" to be like. Like Stephenie Meyer's books, the New Moon movie is virtually free of salty language, drinking, and smoking -- but there are some intense action sequences involving vampires and/or werewolves, and one supporting character dies. Bella and Edward share several kisses, while Jacob and Bella exchange many longing looks and charged embraces. And there's no question about the marketing machine that the Twilight franchise has become, with merchandise and promotional deals with companies including Burger King, Volvo, and Hot Topic.
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What's the story?
Based on the second of Stephenie Meyer's four Twilight books, NEW MOON begins with Bella Swan's (Kristen Stewart) 18th birthday -- an event she's fretting about because it officially makes her one year "older" than her 109-years-old-but-stuck-in-a-17-year-old's-body boyfriend, vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Bella wants him to transform her into a vampire before she gets too old, but Edward has no desire to suck out Bella's soul. After Bella's birthday party at the Cullens' nearly turns into a feeding frenzy, the Cullens decide to move away from Forks, Wash., and Edward breaks up with Bella. Heartbroken and depressed, Bella discovers that she can "see" a vision of Edward cautioning her whenever she acts recklessly, which she proceeds to do frequently. Meanwhile, Bella also finds solace in her deepening friendship with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), an attractive 16-year-old Quileute with a knack for making Bella feel almost normal. But as Bella and Jacob grow closer, it becomes clear that he has his own wolfish secrets. When danger threatens Bella, who will be the one to save her -- her best friend or the love of her life?
Is it any good?
Director Chris Weitz gives New Moon a more polished, action-oriented feel than the first film, but he isn't as adept as Catherine Hardwicke in capturing teenage emotions. With Edward away for much of the movie, the overall tone turns dark and moody (with an excellent indie-rock soundtrack as accompaniment). There's less passion and more angst, with Stewart translating Bella's heartbreak into constant sullenness and hysterical nighttime screams (at least until she starts hanging out with the warm and attentive Jacob). Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg does infuse the sequel with considerably more humor than the original, generally in small moments between Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke), while Bella's hanging out with her classmates (there's a rather comical scene in which Bella's at a movie sitting between Jacob and Mike, both of whom have their hands propped and ready for hers), and when she's in La Push with Jacob and his pack of friends.
Despite some of slow, dragged-out scenes of melodrama, there's plenty for Twihards to howl about in the movie. Lautner, in particular, is swoony and sweet -- compared to Edward, he's all smiles (there might've been applause the first time Edward stepped out of his Volvo, but there was a collective gasp the first time Jacob whipped his shirt off to wipe blood off of Bella's face). In fact, Jacob's pack and the creepy Italian Volturi vampires who play a role later in the film are far more interesting than the Cullens in this installment. The caliber of the Volturi cast is surprisingly high, especially Michael Sheen as leader Aro and Dakota Fanning as sadistic head guard Jane. By the time the ends movie in a sentimental cliffhanger that sets up Eclipse, you can't help but hope that there's more of both groups in the final two films.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bella and Edward's relationship. What do you think about how completely obsessed they are with each other? Do your kids think that's healthy/normal? Parents, talk to your teens about setting expectations for their own dating life, and share your values about what makes for healthy dating and relationships.
Why do you think vampire love stories all the rage now? How is Edward and Bella's relationship different than other vampire-human romances in pop culture?
How are Edward and Jacob opposites? Despite their differences,Bella loves them both (albeit differently). What do they each representto her? Does the film urge viewers to choose between them, or is it complimentary to both characters?
Fans of the book can compare the it to the movie. Was the adaptation faithful? What bits from the book did you miss seeing on screen?
Talk about the larger-than-life phenomenon that the Twilight franchise has become. Are the movies and their stars becoming too overexposed?
- In theaters: November 20, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2010
- Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
- Director: Chris Weitz
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and action
- Last updated: September 28, 2020
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