A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie raises issues of trust, warning us that no one is to be trusted. The downside of that is that when people do tell the truth, nobody believes them. A title card before the opening credits talks about problems with discrimination against immigrants; even though the movie does a fairly poor job of offering a message on that topic, at least the title card offers something to think about.
Positive Role Models
Arthur is the only one here who, in theory, might qualify as a role model (all of the other characters are either villains or suspects), but he's too unhinged. He's a wreck, popping fistfuls of pills to deal with his grief over the loss of his daughter and paranoid to the point of extreme anxiety (and which point, he pops more pills). It's actually a fairly negative portrayal of someone who might be suffering from serious issues like anxiety and grief.
Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting. Blood spurts. Bloody, gory wounds. Dead bodies. Car crashes. Small girl killed in car crash; she's seen lying on pavement. Character hit in the head with a frying pan. Intense flashback/nightmare sequences. Other disturbing imagery.
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A use of "f--kin'," a use of "goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character pops fistfuls of various prescription drugs, described as "psychotics" (but really anti-psychotics?). Adult characters drink beer socially.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wander is a paranoid thriller about a conspiracy theorist (Aaron Eckhart) who's investigating a series of murders in a small town. It begins with a pointed message about the problems with discrimination against immigrants, but it quickly turns into an off-the-rails experience, and it's unclear whether you're supposed to take it seriously. Violence is pretty intense, with guns and shooting, dead bodies, bloody/gory wounds and blood spurts, car crashes, a child dying, a character getting hit with a blunt object, and some disturbing, nightmarish imagery. The main character also pops fistfuls of various prescription drugs that are described as "psychotics," and adult characters drink beer socially. Language includes a use of "f--kin'" and a use of "goddamn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This off-the-rails paranoid thriller is so untethered -- not helped by Eckhart's unpredictable, inconsistent performance -- that it's difficult to tell whether it's taking itself seriously. At certain times in Wander, Eckhart's Arthur recalls some of Nicolas Cage's loopier characters (he's frequently out of breath and wincing in pain); at other times, he lowers his chin and snarls and growls like Christian Bale's Batman. It's difficult to know whether he actually knows what he's doing or whether he's a disaster waiting to happen. It's also difficult to tell just how the other characters relate to him. As for one character who keeps popping up, Shelley (Heather Graham), we don't learn until near the end that she's his lawyer!
Wander purposely employs little holes in the storytelling, omitting crucial events and then explaining them later; this presumably is an attempt to build suspense, but it only builds annoyance and confusion. Director April Mullen spends a lot of time following behind Eckhart, staring at his back as Arthur investigates things, and most of the rest of the time on nauseatingly jerky hand-held camerawork. Meanwhile, Breaking Bad's Raymond Cruz has very little to do, and Jones mostly phones in his performance, but at least he adds a few moments of lightness. Overall, this movie is just screwy enough that it might amuse viewers who are caught in the right mood.
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.