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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Story initially seems to embrace idea that, yes, things are sometimes unfair, and send the message that someone "bad" can become successful and powerful while someone "good" is punished, even when trying to set things right. But final moment casts a new light on the idea, asking what all of this has to do with a person's identity and how we perceive it. It's a complex theme but very much worth pondering.
Positive Role Models
Viewers are never told what happened to Teddo and how he ended up becoming incarcerated, etc., but when he gets out, he tries to set things right and expose the truth of the event that changed his life. Unfortunately, part of his plan involves violence, and violence is inflicted upon him, too.
Contributes meaningfully to the too short list of movies about Native American characters and experiences, prompting viewers to think about how the characters' lives are tied to or shaped by their experiences as Ojibwe. Genuine representations of realistically flawed people. Makwa is abused and bullied, spends his life escaping his identity, coveting wealth, power, status, though a final moment shows him questioning everything. Teddo also seems to have made iffy choices, has little to live for (his face tattoos interfere with his ability to get a job), but he has a good heart.
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Violence & Scariness
Teen boy abused by parents; bruised face, black eye. Father roughly grabs teen by the hair and drags him across a room. Teens play with a rifle; teen boy shot (off-screen) and killed. Teen boy stabs father (brief, hard to see), blood shown. Teen boy bullied, hit in stomach. Guns and shooting. Character shot in arm. Another character is shot in the throat and killed. Blood shown. Man holds a knife to a woman's throat. Man chokes an exotic dancer (possibly tied to sexual release), then lets go when she panics and hits him. Horror movie briefly playing on television.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married man visits a strip club, asks if he can choke a dancer. Partial naked breast.
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Strong language includes many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "goddamn," "oh my God," "shut up." "Hell" is used during a sermon.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen and adult cigarette smoking. Beer drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wild Indian is a drama/thriller about how the lives of two Ojibwe men change after a violent event in their youth. Violence includes a father abusing a teen (shouting, grabbing him by the hair) and a teen being bullied at school: He has a black eye and bruises on his face. Teens play with a rifle and kill another teen (off-screen), and a teen stabs an adult. Adults shoot guns, characters die, blood is shown, and a man holds a knife to a woman's throat and briefly strangles another woman. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "goddamn," and more. A man visits a strip club, where he asks whether he can choke one of the dancers (a partial naked breast is also seen). Both teens and adults smoke cigarettes, and an adult drinks beer. The film is powerful, though not without flaws, and it requires a bit of effort to go with its themes, but it's nonetheless recommended to mature viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.'s feature debut may leave viewers feeling a little displaced by its disquieting turn of events, but the movie's dedication to The Way Things Are is both powerful and lasting. Wild Indian challenges any assumptions viewers might make about how the two boys in the 1980s sequence will turn out; many may expect that it will turn out like all those movies about one brother/friend who becomes a cop and the other who becomes a criminal. But writer-director Corbine, who comes from an Ojibwe background himself, surprises with his storytelling choices.
This allows viewers to imagine tons of unspoken backstory. Could Teddo have been so shattered and disillusioned by the events of that day that he just gave up? Is Makwa/Michael's transformation into a California mover and shaker all an attempt to run from his past? Two-thirds of the way through the movie, things take an even more drastic turn, and it may feel unfair. But if you resist, you may miss the point of Wild Indian: to embrace the idea that, yes, things are sometimes unfair. Though it ultimately has some debut-feature drawbacks, this is still a potent story of identity and perception that's worth seeing.
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.