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 Wolfpack is a documentary about siblings who were kept inside a New York City apartment for nearly their entire lives, watching movies as their primary window to the world and re-enacting them as a means of creative expression. There's some strong language, mainly in repeated dialogue from the films of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. These play-acting moments also contain some implied violence (fake guns, fake fighting, etc.). It's implied that the siblings' father (the one responsible for the apartment lockdown) drinks, and there are some flashbacks to the parents' courtship. Despite the unusual situation it captures, ultimately, this is a positive, warm, human documentary, so teens -- especially movie buffs -- may be drawn to it.
What's the story?
The six Angulo brothers -- Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krsna, and Jagadisa -- and their sister were raised and home-schooled inside their family's New York City apartment, only very rarely leaving it to experience the city streets. (They were allowed outside maybe once a year, though sometimes less.) But the siblings found solace through movies. Before long, they began transcribing entire screenplays, making costumes and props, devising make-up, and re-creating their favorites (Reservoir Dogs, The Dark Knight, etc.) in their apartment. Their seemingly limitless imagination eventually reached past the walls of their familiar apartment, paving the way for their first real steps outside.
Is it any good?
The movie could have gone deeper, but to do so would have disrupted its tone, which is spot-on. Filmmaker Crystal Moselle -- who spotted the six Angulo brothers during one of their rare excursions and befriended them -- takes a surprisingly tender approach to the material, never casting blame or making comments. There are no outside interviews in THE WOLFPACK, no psychologists or social workers, and no narration. The father is interviewed sporadically, and we see that he drinks and that the boys fear him.
Instead, Moselle shows that the boys, though deprived of simple, basic things like friends and nature, are smart and likable, and they seem to trust her with their innermost feelings. She avoids darkness and gives the movie a sense of hope as the siblings begin to venture out on their own and eventually begin to look forward to their new lives as independent adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the brothers re-enact violent movies they've seen in The Wolfpack. Why do they seem attracted to movies about violence? How do they depict the violence in their own playacting? Can they tell the difference?
What are some of the basic things this family missed out on while the kids were growing up? Did you have those things? Does the movie make you appreciate them more?
If you were in the siblings' situation, how do you think you'd fill the time spent in that apartment?
How is the father's drinking depicted? What does it mean for him -- and for the rest of the family?
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