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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
T.S. is a child genius. He talks about human reproduction, geography, and cartography and shares interesting facts throughout the movie.
The message that comes through at the end is that people's differences should be embraced. But throughout much of the movie, T.S., his mother, his sister, and his father all feel isolated because they're different. One mention about the dangers of letting children handle without supervision.
Positive Role Models
T.S. is brilliant and brave. He continues to do his work even though his father thinks it's useless, his mother ignores it, and his teacher screams at him. But he also does many dangerous things, including crawling under a moving freight train, jumping off a moving bridge to the other side, and hitchhiking. He tells everyone he's an orphan. His mother is brilliant but barely pays attention to her children. After Layton is killed, she dies a little inside and can't help her other kids work through it. T.S.' father isn't kind or compassionate to anyone, including his wife. G.H. Jibsen is an unethical, manipulative binge drinker.
Violence & Scariness
A boy shoots a gun more than once (including at a can tied to a cat with a string); it's revealed that he dies in a gun accident (not shown, but described in vivid detail). Also shooting in a movie, and a photo shows a soldier holding a rifle to a man's head. Potentially upsetting moments involving animals include stuffed game, a calf being branded, a snake being shot, and a goat getting caught in a fence and cut up. A teacher yells in a boy's face. A runaway boy takes lots of risks, including jumping on a train car and a moving bridge (the latter results in an injury) and hitchhiking. T.S.' dead brother appears and talks to him.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The parents touch hands, and it's implied that they made up because the mother is pregnant at the end of the movie. Scientific explanation of how babies are produced.
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Swearing isn't constant but does include strong words: "piss," "crap," "s--t," "f--," and even "motherf----r." Also exclamations such as "oh God" and "Jesus Christ."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
T.S.' dad drinks, gets angry, and breaks his glass in his hand. G.H. Jibsen drinks heavily when T.S. does a talk show. Guests at an award show drink wine and cocktails.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, based on the novel by Reif Larsen, is a sad, sweet tale about a brilliant boy (Kyle Catlett) who runs away to receive an award he won from the Smithsonian shortly after his twin brother is accidently killed in a gun accident. There are many references to guns -- T.S.' dad is a cowboy rancher who tries to live like he's in the Old West and brands a calf, shoots a rattlesnake, and has stuffed game on the wall, along with an arsenal of guns. At one point, T.S. discusses his brother's death in graphic detail, though it's not shown. Scenes of peril include T.S. hanging from a bridge, crawling under a moving train, and hitchhiking with a creepy trucker. There's also some drinking, punching people out, and swearing (including "horses--t" and even "motherf----r"). Ultimately, this is a sometimes incredibly moving and beautiful, sometimes strange (why is the dog talking?), and sometimes funny movie, but it isn't for younger kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This offbeat, melancholy film, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie), starts out quirky and then turns tragically sad as more information about what happened to T.S.' twin brother is revealed. The scenery is gorgeous, and the acting is wonderful -- especially on the part of Catlett, who plays T.S. He's compelling and tragic, which makes it easy to feel T.S.' isolation and guilt. His father doesn't appreciate T.S.' brilliance (or his wife's) and ends up being somewhat one-dimensional, though Bonham Carter is sympathetic as T.S.' dotty mother, Dr. Clair, who increasingly turns inward after the accident.
It takes a long time for anyone to take responsibility for allowing T.S. and his brother to play with guns -- or to acknowledge that their living son is in pain, which won't be easy for parents to watch. The story is moving and sometimes magical, but at other times odd (the dog starts talking), which takes you out of the story a bit. Overall, THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET is a good, sweet film, but it's not for younger kids.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.