Parents' Guide to

West Michigan

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Meandering teen drama has language, attempted suicide.

Movie NR 2021 76 minutes
West Michigan Poster Image

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The writing, acting, and tone of this film are all inconsistent and often quite poor, but the intention in West Michigan is clearly genuine and loving. Director Riley Warmoth, who also plays Charlie, Hannah's brother, clearly loves his real-life sister Chloe Ray Warmoth (Hannah). But for the sake of the story and film, Charlie probably shouldn't have been so involved. The first half of the film almost entirely consists of different conversations between Hannah and Charlie while they slowly make their way to their destination. But the siblings don't indicate that they're especially close or share similar interests. This discontinuity amounts to the feeling that Charlie simply doesn't need to be in the film, or at least, in the film nearly as much, because the second he's gone, the film gets a lot better (also, it doesn't help that as an actor, Riley Warmoth is quite stiff and awkward).

The second half focuses on Hannah meeting a random group of teenagers camping, and they hang out for a while. The film suffers from being meandering and largely about things that occupy and concern very privileged and affluent (as noted by the house they return to at the end of the film) White young adults. Certainly, depression, abusive/toxic relationships, suicidal thoughts, and cutting are all very serious, but this film doesn't attempt to engage with any of these topics at all (after Hannah's "attempt," the film never really brings it up again beyond Charlie later in the film telling Hannah, "You know I have to tell our parents, right?") let alone engage with them with any real experience, weight, or maturity. Without exploring these important subjects, it feels like these rich White kids are just bored and don't know what to do with themselves.

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