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Parents' Guide to

White Noise

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Ambitious but uneven drama has guns, crashes, more.

Movie R 2022 136 minutes
White Noise Movie: Poster

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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (2 ):

A far cry from Noah Baumbach's usual talky character pieces, this adaptation of Don DeLillo's 1985 novel is big, ambitious, bizarre, wildly uneven, sporadically funny, and weirdly worth seeing. Those familiar with the book (which was long considered "unfilmable") may have a leg up on others, especially since White Noise features long stretches of blocky chunks of artificial-sounding dialogue that careen up against one another, creating a cacophonous soundscape. But it also starts with a lecture by Murray Siskind (Don Cheadle) about the beauty of car crashes that's flat-out hilarious. (In one scene, the movie pays film-nerd homage to Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film Week End, with its famous tracking shot full of stalled, ruined traffic.)

White Noise bounces back and forth between dialogue-heavy scenes -- including a verbose back-and-forth lecture comparing Hitler to Elvis -- and FX-laden sequences like a huge train wreck and a car chase scene. It seems to want to say a great deal, from the futility of the education system to the ridiculousness of consumerism and our overreliance on medication, but nothing hits very hard; nothing hits home. And Baumbach tries like crazy to be a "visual" director here, with poetic camera moves and pinwheeling shots around a room. But every so often, some odd combination of things feels just right, whether it be a sublime exchange between characters or a satisfying cut between shots. However, nothing is as totally wonderful as the end credits sequence: a musical number in a supermarket, with pastel colors popping and Andre 3000 from OutKast shimmying with a box of cookies. That alone is worth seeing twice.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: November 25, 2022
  • On DVD or streaming: December 30, 2022
  • Cast: Adam Driver , Greta Gerwig , Don Cheadle
  • Director: Noah Baumbach
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors, Black actors
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 136 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: brief violence and language
  • Last updated: March 9, 2023

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