A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that What We Found is a mystery in which bright high schoolers are steps ahead of the authorities investigating a crime. It's also a story about friendship and the difficulties of growing up. For the most part, the kids are admirable, and even some bad guys try to be their best selves. Expect some language ("f--k," "s--t," and "d--k"), as well as bullying, drug-dealing, police corruption, murder, and violence. Drug dealers with guns threaten and shoot people. Several people end up dead of gunshot wounds. A body is buried in the woods. Bloody wounds and a bloody body are seen. Drug dealers operate in schools. A father is abusive.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ninth graders Marcus (Jordan Hall), Holly (Oona Lawrence), and Grant (Julian Shatkin) are close friends who sneak out at night together to watch lunar eclipses. In WHAT WE FOUND, they call themselves the "dork club," good students who stay out of trouble. Tiny but brainy Marcus worries that starting high school will be hazardous. He's teased for being small and for being smart. At lunch one day, he shows off his tech skills by getting a student's phone to start moaning in a sexy way. That phone belongs to Clay (Brandon Larracuente), a muscular bully who happens to be the school's local drug dealer. Cassie (Giorgia Whigham), once Marcus' babysitter, has sway with Clay, and the bully backs down, but soon it’s clear that Clay is in over his head with dangerous suppliers who have guns and don't hesitate to use them. When Cassie disappears, Marcus enlists his squad to find Cassie and bring the villains to justice.
Is it any good?
This movie is engaging, largely thanks to adroit editing and natural performances by Jordan Hall as the brainy Marcus and Oona Lawrence as his courageous and plucky best friend Holly. For undersized ninth grader Marcus, high school is a scary place, filled with large and menacing bullies, and we can believe that he would keep his problems to himself, given that his single mother is a night shift nurse busy making ends meet.
But at times credibility is strained when he takes on a bit too much for a kid, even a kid trying to protect his overtaxed mom. Complaints are minor, but in the movie's effort to suggest that even bullies can be nice and even corrupt people can turn around and do the right thing, it sometimes feels as if characters have changed unrecognizably by the end of What We Found.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how difficult it is for Marcus' working single mom to keep track of his exploits in What We Found. How do we know that Marcus and his mom are close, despite arguments they may have?
The plot revolves around a murder, but the film makes an effort to fill in secondary stories. How does Holly stand up to her abusive dad and victimized mother? What do we learn about why the captain became a police officer?
How does the movie offer nuances about characters? Are characters either all bad or all good? Do these characters seem believable? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2020
- Cast: Jordan Hall, Oona Lawrence, Elizabeth Mitchell, James Ransone, Yetide Badaki, Brandon Larracuente, Giorgia Whigham, Julian Shatkin
- Director: Ben Hickernell
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: August 25, 2020
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