A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes political literacy and activism for teens and young people. Shows how young people can utilize trauma to fuel social justice and accomplish social change.
Positive Role Models
The diverse group of featured teens are survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. Along with other teenage gun violence survivors from across the country, they come together to tour the nation in hopes of inspiring voters to elect legislators interested in gun reform. They exhibit human flaws, which makes them all the more relatable. They encounter people who dismiss them and denigrate their efforts but meet those challenges with grace.
Violence & Scariness
Snippets of cell phone footage from the shooting are included, but no actual shots are heard and no injured or killed people are shown. The film's primary objective is to teach about the lasting physical and mental trauma that shooting survivors must live with. Teens cry for and mourn lost friends and deal with issues including suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and survivor's guilt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "s--t," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Vaping is shown. Champagne is displayed when one of the teens accepts an award during a gala.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Us Kids offers a firsthand account of the stories of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, whose experience propelled them into national political and social activism. The teens profiled in the film face resistance from gun ownership proponents and NRA-backed lawmakers while inspiring others who support gun regulation. The documentary reveals how the activists' perseverance and teamwork helped turn the tide of the 2018 midterm elections. While the film is inspiring and empowering, it does include some swearing (including "f--k"), minor drug (vaping) and alcohol use, and overt focus on trauma and its mental health effects. Suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, and survivor's guilt are among the survivors' issues. There's also a quick moment regarding climate anxiety. Parents with teens who are struggling with anxiety and/or depression should discuss the themes in the film and any possible stress it could cause. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Directed by Kim A. Snyder, this powerful film puts viewers in the mindset of the Parkland activists as they grow from grief-stricken teens to activists struggling with their newfound spotlight. Us Kids does a fantastic job of bringing the Parkland tragedy into the realm of the personal, forcing viewers to realize that these larger-than-life people we've read about in the news are actually young people who are simply hoping to live safely.
The film also hones in on the unimaginable amount of abuse the activists faced, particularly in states where gun reform is the most contested. Hogg, for instance, is derided as a crisis actor and faces multiple death threats for simply asking that machine guns stay out of untrained hands. That treatment, plus the teens' personal trauma, compound and show up in various ways, from fears of closed spaces and survivor's guilt to existential crises and fears of weakness in the face of adversity. The human toll of fighting for a just cause leaves a mark on the viewer, while the young activists' ability to make change against incredible odds provides hope for those who also want to leave their mark on society.
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.
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