Tyrel

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Tyrel Movie Poster Image
Lots of swearing, partying in aimless indie dramedy.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film seems to want to address racial tension but ultimately isn't about anything.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one behaves particularly well. A neighbor seems nice but could also be considered naive. 

Violence

Drunken horseplay.

Sex

Nothing depicted, but there's innuendo/talk of sex.

Language

Constant use of "f--k." Also "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "d--k," "f----t," "p---y," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Constant "partying," including drinking to excess, smoking marijuana, and smoking tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tyrel is a meandering indie dramedy set during a weekend in the Catskills in which a young black man (Jason Mitchell) parties uncomfortably with an otherwise all-white group of friends (including Christopher Abbott, Michael Cera, and Caleb Landry Jones). While there's not much in the way of violence or sex beyond horseplay and innuendo, you can expect tons of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and many others) and lots of partying (drinking, cigarettes, pot).

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What's the story?

In TYREL, a young black man named Tyler (Jason Mitchell) -- not "Tyrel" -- goes with his friend Johnny (Christopher Abbott) to spend a weekend partying with an all-white group of friends in the wintry Catskills. Tyler feels uncomfortable, in part because of annoying behavior by some of the friends (including one played by Get Out’s Caleb Landry Jones). Another idiosyncratic friend, Alan (Michael Cera), shows up the next day, and Tyler feels comfortable enough to get drunk and reckless.

Is it any good?

This type of meandering indie used to be called "mumblecore," thanks to its hallmarks: formless scenes without intention and general lack of story. Directed by Sebastián Silva -- of the highly praised The Maid (2009) -- Tyrel certainly fits the mumblecore profile. Perhaps it’s meant to be a comment on race relations in America. If so, what that comment is, is anyone's guess. The characters' conversations aren't insightful; they're certainly not compelling. And the language isn't clever or funny. It's one of those movies in which rarely an exchange escapes without a sprinkling of "f--k"s. Not to be prudish about it, but when any word is repeated so much, it feels more like a vocal tic than a tool of expression. Plus, the handheld camera style is shaky and unsure to the point of inducing motion sickness. There are no actual conflicts, strong desires, or engaging relationships. There's no plot.

And then there's the matter of the title. The protagonist is named "Tyler," though one character mistakenly calls him "Tyrel" on meeting him. So we can only speculate why that was chosen to name the film. If the inverted final syllable is meant to imply the character is internally twisted/turned around, the film doesn't really show us why that would be. Cera brings a brief flicker of energy to the proceedings, but Ann Dowd and Reg E. Cathey are wasted in cameos. At 86 minutes, Tyrel manages to feel much too long.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Tyrel. Is it necessary to the story? Realistic? Did it establish character?

  • What would you say the movie is about? Why? How can you tell? Is it intended to be a "message" movie?

  • How do you think you'd feel in Tyler's position? Do you understand why he does what he does?

Movie details

For kids who love quirky movies

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