@urFRENZ

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
@urFRENZ Movie Poster Image
Intriguing but overheated drama examines online bullying.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's tricky to find a positive message in this dark movie, but it could serve as a way to encourage parents to parent in a healthy, supportive manner and teens to seek help if they're overcome with disturbing feelings.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Few of the characters act reasonably or responsibly; one is specifically on a monumentally devastating, destructive trajectory that will leave much damage in its wake. Parents and teens alike are out of control, though one teen does end up telling the truth in the end. Also, nearly everyone is texting or at their computers in the film, even elementary school-aged kids, to the detriment of real-life interactions.

Violence

A girl is shown cutting herself with a blade. Later, a corpse is shown in a bloody bathtub.

Sex

Conversations about "doing it" and wearing thongs to seduce guys met online. A rumor circulates about a teen performing a sex act on a classmate. Flirty chats.

Language

"A--hole," "slut," "d--k," "c--k," and "bitch" are used.

Consumerism

Apple products (iPhone, laptop) are identifiable.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of teens playing beer pong; a high school party has teens drinking from telltale (though unlabeled) red cups.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this agonizing drama is a heavy-handed but still powerful and thought-provoking treatise on both teens' and adults' capacity to be destructive on social networks. It includes some hard-to-watch scenes of suicide attempts and online bullying. Also expect some swearing, play-by-play of discomfiting online chats, and self-abuse (cutting). There are also references to sex acts, one of which becomes a rumor that rapidly devastates a teen.

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What's the story?

Teenage Catharine (Lily Holleman) is troubled -- she cuts herself, barely eats, and is stricken with malaise she can't shake -- but finds respite online at @urFRENZ, a social networking site. While logged on, she's chatted up by a guy named Brandon who's empathetic and attentive. Little does Catharine know that "Brandon" is really the mother of a former friend (Gayla Goehl) pretending to be someone she's not so she can find out whether Catharine is responsible for spreading rumors about her daughter, Madison (Najarra Townsend), a popular girl who's masking her own depression. A literal and figurative web as tangled as this can't go on without a tragic hitch.

Is it any good?

When it's not pounding you over the head with its off-putting scared-straight tactics and overwrought messages about online anonymity, @urFRENZ is actually compelling. With its ripped-from-the-headlines story and atmospheric cinematography, it provokes viewers to think about the darker side of online friendships and social networking (frightening parents along the way).

 

Ignore the over-acting and sometimes heavy-handed plot-pushing, and there's plenty of material here to spark (hopefully) meaningful conversations with teens (it's a little too macabre for younger audiences). How do we really know who we're talking to online? Are social networks a safe outlet for teens who can't share their feelings in person, or are they cloaks for bullies? The answer in real life is much more nuanced than what @urFRENZ offers, but it's an interesting watch nonetheless.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issues the movie raises. Why is it so important to be safe and smart online? What are the dangers of social networks?

  • Parents, talk to your teens about cyberbullying. What roles can you play in helping to prevent it?

  • How does the movie handle the topic of teen depression? Does it seem authentic? Teens: How many kids do you know who are going through this right now?

Movie details

For kids who love online life

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