Very Good Girls

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Very Good Girls Movie Poster Image
Bland, brooding coming-of-age drama wastes talented cast.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove August 4, 2014

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. T... Continue reading
Parent of an infant year old Written bytaharahmati July 27, 2014

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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 with 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?

Respected screenwriter (and mother of stars Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal) Naomi Foner makes her feature film debut with this slow-moving, unremarkable character study. It's the story 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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