Twelve

 
(i)

 

Bleak, intense look at the high life of NYC's young elites.
  • Review Date: July 28, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie presents a pretty bleak portrait of teen life -- everyone (from kids to parents, A students to dropouts) is messed up. But there is also a sense that reliance on substances is a dangerous game.

Positive role models

It’s hard to find anyone who has it together in this movie. Most parents are MIA, literally and emotionally, self-obsessed and deluded. Their teenagers are lost, confused, enraged, addicted, or murderous -- and maybe all of the above.

Violence

A teenager is shot during a drug deal gone awry, as is a witness. A rampage ends bloodily. A disturbed character punches walls and threatens his brother with a sword. Teens talk trash at a basketball court, and the tiff escalates into a fistfight.

Sex

Discussions about various sex acts. A teen’s porno stash is revealed. Couples grope and make out (mostly in darkened rooms). Girls take photos of each other in lingerie. One character offers her virginity in exchange for drugs; her partner’s behind is fleetingly revealed as they undress. Boys talk about how to "get laid."

Language

Frequent use of everything from “goddammit” to “s--t” to "f--k."

Consumerism

Lots of brand name-dropping, including Marc Jacobs and various restaurants. Many top private schools are also mentioned, including Dalton, Hotchkiss, Andover, Chapin, and Collegiate.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink a lot, everything from beer to hard liquor. A character deals weed and is often shown selling it; his customers are often shown smoking it. Another drug, the titular Twelve, makes its rounds. Lots of references to weed. Discussions about prescription drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this heavy drama stars many actors and actresses popular with tweens and teens -- including Chace Crawford and Emma Roberts -- it's too graphic and mature for younger viewers (even fans of Crawford’s Gossip Girl are likely to find some of the behavior depicted here shocking). Teens are shown drinking and doing drugs, exchanging sex for drugs and other favors, and acting out in very violent ways. There are also many references to sex acts, some scenes in which teen characters are scantily clad and in the middle of intimate acts, and heaps of swearing.

Kids say

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What's the story?

White Mike (Chace Crawford) used to roam the halls of one of New York’s coveted private schools -- until his mother died from cancer and his father’s restaurant went bankrupt. So off the grid he went, dropping out and selling weed to his former classmates. He doesn't use (or even drink) himself, and he won’t deal Twelve -- the new drug hitting the streets -- but his Harlem supplier, Lionel (Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent), will. On a not-so-typical Thursday night, White Mike’s cousin Charlie (Jeremy Allen White) leaves a message on his phone, begging for him to call back. But by the time he does, it’s too late. Meanwhile, White Mike’s best friend (Emma Roberts) seems eager to shed her good-girl image, and the city’s It Girl, Sara Ludlow (Esti Ginzburg), has convinced yet another boy (Rory Culkin) to give into her whims and host a birthday bash to end all birthday bashes.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

TWELVE certainly has the right look for its subject mater -- and that's not a reference to the conspicuously consumed and chicer-than-chic outfits that its private school types are wearing (though it does get those right, too). Cinematography-wise, the film admirably melds grittiness and slickness with its blown-out white, inky black, and dark-jewel-toned images. Plot-wise, there’s plenty to draw viewers in, too; grief -- Mike’s over his mother’s death, and most of the kids' over their parents’ deep neglect -- suffuses everything.

But, oh, the heavy-handedness! It all begins with woeful voiceover narration delivered in (naturally) a gravelly voice -- courtesy of Kiefer Sutherland -- that tells viewers everything we need to know. So why should we bother to watch? The lines themselves are well-written, but they sound self conscious, essentially announcing, "This is edgy stuff." (The Nick McDonell novel on which it’s based fares much better.) Crawford’s White Mike is a darker role than his Nate in Gossip Girl, but given the movie's setting, it doesn’t feel like he’s stretching too much. Ultimately, Twelve feels like Gossip Girl Gone Wild. It's powerful, but it’s peopled with so many characters that it’s hard to keep track of all their issues and personal dramas, let alone care.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether the lifestyle depicted in this movie is appealing. If so, why? What are the real-life consequences of the behavior depicted here, including drinking, drugs, and sex?

  • What role do the teens' parents play in their lives? If they’re absent, what affect does that have on their kids?

  • What is the movie saying about the state of families right now, at least within this social circle? Do you think it’s an accurate portrait, or could it be exaggerated for artistic reasons?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 6, 2010
DVD release date:December 28, 2010
Cast:50 Cent, Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin
Director:Joel Schumacher
Studio:Hannover House
Genre:Drama
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong drug content, alcohol abuse, language, sexual material, brief nudity and some violence - all involving teens

This review of Twelve was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written bybibin August 12, 2010
 
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bywonder dove May 22, 2012
 

For people who have no lives!

Terrible, terrible film. All about drugs mainly, told in a very poor & worthless story. This film is aimed towards teens and I hate how it tries to pull them in, it'll have them thinking drugs are cool and everyone who wants to be "in" has to do them. A very bad influence on the younger generation. We need to lift people UP not drag them down with mind controlling substances! Definitely pass on this garbage.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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