Very Good Girls

 
Bland, brooding coming-of-age drama wastes talented cast.
  • Review Date: July 23, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The overall messages are that best friends should be honest with each other and that it's not a wise idea to lie or manipulate others. Lily's behavior and choices make it clear how destructive dishonesty and playing with emotions can be, particularly when dealing with a best friend and a significant other. Another valuable lesson is that sex and jealousy shouldn't be used as weapons against people.

Positive role models

Both girls sometimes behave in a questionable manner, but they're ultimately devoted friends to each other, even after a guy's affections temporarily get in the way. They still have a lot to figure out, but they know they have each other, no matter what.

Violence

Gerry pushes Lily in anger. A secondary character dies suddenly (off camera). A young man holds a woman's chin pretty intensely.

Sex

Sex is a major theme of the movie; the main characters' goal is to lose their virginity before college. Some partial nudity as the girls run naked into the beach (a brief glimpse of bottoms, backs, and the side of breasts). Several love scenes, but most are dark, so viewers see skin and limbs and hear moans and other noises, but there's no clear nudity. The girls discuss wanting to have sex, and then one exaggerates about doing it, but the other keeps her love life to herself. A daughter discovers her father making out with a woman who isn't his wife.

Language

Occasional strong language includes "f--k," "d--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch."

Consumerism

Brands/products seen include Mercedes and Coke.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage young women drink in the company of other underage but out of high school friends and, in one case, with a much older boss.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Very Good Girls is an indie coming-of-age drama starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as best friends who hope to lose their virginity before starting college. Sex is a major theme of the movie -- who's having it and with whom (both girls fall for the same guy, and a father is caught cheating on his wife). There's some partial nudity during a skinny dipping scene (the two leads are shown running into the surf from behind), and while there are sex scenes, since they're pretty dark, you see skin and kissing and hear moaning, but there's no graphic nudity. Expect some swearing ("s--t," "f--k," and more) and underage drinking. But there are also lessons for teens about the importance of honesty in relationships, whether they're marital, romantic, or friendship.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In VERY GOOD GIRLS, Gerry (Elizabeth Olsen) and Lily (Dakota Fanning) are best friends enjoying their last summer before college hanging around Brooklyn, working, and trying to lose their virginity. It's not a bet like in American Pie, but the girls are done feeling like the "last virgins" their age. Things get complicated when they meet brooding ice cream vendor/photographer David (Boyd Holbrook) and Gerry immediately starts flirting with him ... except he only has eyes for Lily. Soon Lily and David begin to see and sleep each other without telling Gerry, who still harbors a crush on him. Things get complicated when Gerry suffers a loss, and a guilty Lily sends David to comfort her.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Respected screenwriter (and mother of stars Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal) Naomi Foner makes her feature film debut with this slow-moving, unremarkable character study of 18-year-old best friends who spend a summer exploring their sexuality, pushing their friendship, and dealing with parental issues. Although Olsen and Fanning are both wonderful actresses, they're miscast as contemporaries (their five-year age gap is glaringly obvious, as is the fact that Holbrook is a decade older than Fanning), and their talent can't save this soporific and self-indulgent drama.

It's always a shame when a guy (however temporarily) comes between young women, particularly when the guy is basically a hipster stereotype who spends his spare time reading Sylvia Plath and pasting his close-up portraits to public spaces. The girls' home lives are supposed to be hugely contrasting, with Lily the daughter of rich and repressed WASPs -- mom (Ellen Barkin, borderline unrecognizable) is a therapist, and dad (Clark Gregg) is a doctor who's cheating on his wife -- and Gerry the daughter of rich and open leftists: mom (Demi Moore) spouts feminist advice, and dad (Richard Dreyfuss) spouts leftist leanings. But all of the parents, especially Moore and Dreyfuss, have little to do, as does Peter Sarsgaard (Foner's son in law) as Lily's creepily interested boss. Holbrook, on the other hand, has SO much to do, but he doesn't have enough charisma to pull off being "the guy," so the whole movie basically becomes one big head scratcher about why Lily and Gerry would risk their friendship to be with him. The story initially has promise, but it just doesn't deliver.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how teen sexuality is depicted in Very Good Girls. Why is virginity such an important issue to the main characters? It is it believable that girls would have sex with guys they barely know? Did Lily and David have a healthy relationship?

  • How are sex, cheating, and forgiveness all portrayed as themes in the movie? How do these issues affect Gerry and Lily's friendship?

  • Actors often play much younger characters, and in this movie, Gerry and David were both played actors long out of high school. Was it obvious? Did it bother you?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 25, 2014
DVD release date:September 23, 2014
Cast:Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Ellen Barkin
Director:Naomi Foner
Studio:Tribeca Productions
Genre:Drama
Topics:Friendship
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and sexual content

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Adult Written bywonder dove August 4, 2014
age 16+
 

Good...but not for everyone!

Very good girls was not a bad watch at all, however it's not recommended for younger teens 15 and under due to some awful messages it sends out to girls. The film revolves around two very close best friends who desperately want to lose their virginity before they go off to college, I assume they are supposed to be 17/18 years old. Dakota Fanning plays Lily, the quiet one with a troubled family, who's best friends with Gerry played by Elizabeth Olsen, the outgoing, adventurous one. While enjoying a day at the beach they run into a guy called David (Boyd Holbrook) selling ice cream who is also a street artist/photographer. Instantly, Gerry has the hots for him while Lily keeps her feelings to herself. Later, Lily runs into him again and learns that he likes her as she likes him too, but she never once tells her own best friend she's seeing him even though Gerry pines for him on daily basis. Lily spends so much time with her new love that she misses out on the most important time in Gerry's life, she runs to comfort her but feels an awful guilt about seeing David behind her back. Trying to fix the matter, she sends David to visit Gerry hoping he will fall for her instead, but things get twisted when lies and betrayal start to unfold between them. Can Lily and Gerry remain the close best friends they once were? There are more bad messages than good (like having the need to lose one's virginity by a certain time to anyone, lying to your best friend, hurting others to get even, sleeping around...etc) but the good is that you overcome those mistakes and learn from them so that it's unlikely it will ever happen again. Language has f-words throughout, sh*t, bullsh*t, @ss, d*ck, b*tch, @sshole, "ta ta's referred to as breasts". Violence has an intense argument between best friends with crying, pushing and yelling. There is a death of a character talked about. Sexual content includes brief discussions about being a virgin, some kissing throughout, two characters remove their clothes (nothing shown) and have sex in a shed where we hear a moan or two and see some skin and groping. Another sex scene that's pretty brief with nothing shown. A character touches herself under her shirt but is interrupted. A married man is caught heavily making out with a woman who's not his wife (or could be in the middle of sex, as one of the characters says he was "boning" her), two characters are shown naked under blankets when one gets up we see her bare back and side breast, a character says she f-ed another character, references to cheating throughout, a much older character makes out with his much younger employee and almost go all the way until she runs away, some talk about who slept with who...etc. There is some underage drinking but not frequent. One part was very sad because I can relate. Excellent cast and excellent acting! OK for mature 16+ who aren't easily influenced.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of an infant year old Written bytaharahmati July 27, 2014

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