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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Discourages teamwork and frowns on loyalty to family; celebrates revenge and retribution on an (admittedly disgraceful) family member.
Positive Role Models
The main character starts out as a good person but is continually driven down a bad path, with no negative consequences and only great rewards waiting for him. Meanwhile, his father is absolutely despicable from start to finish, with no redeeming qualities.
Violence & Scariness
Intense fighting, punching sequences. Also fighting, shoving on basketball court, with a bloody face. Family violence: A father smacks a son in the face and injures him on the court. Main character with injured knee, on crutches, in pain. Injured hand, with blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss in bed; foreplay is suggested. Suggestions that sex has happened/is about to happen. Adults kiss.
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Language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," the "N" word, "bitch," "p---y," "ass," "damn," "shut up," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). Racial slur "chink" is used.
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Products & Purchases
References to Instagram and Twitter. Nike shoes. Adidas mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters drinking/drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wolves is a coming-of-age drama about a teen basketball star and his gambling-addict father. There's fighting and punching on the basketball court, with some blood, as well as shocking violence committed by a father against his son (the father smacks the son in the face and then seriously injures him while playing ball). Teens kiss, and a sexual relationship between them is suggested, especially when the girl is said to be pregnant. Adults are also shown kissing. Language is strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and many other words; the "N" word and other racial slurs are heard, too. An adult is shown drinking and drunk. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While the performances are strong in this coming-of-age drama, it suffers from being too familiar and predictable, with wobbly, hand-held camerawork continually breaking the storytelling's spell. Writer/director Bart Freundlich (Catch That Kid) chose his cast well: Shannon is one of the greatest actors working today, and he isn't afraid to explore his character's deepest inadequacies. It looks like Smith can actually play ball, and, as Anthony's mother, Carla Gugino is an active character rather than just being there to support the male characters. Plus, Chris Bauer is striking as Anthony's Uncle Charlie, a man with a past of his own.
But Wolves' awkward, greenish-gray cinematography makes the character moments feel staged, rather than natural, and the random cutting makes the basketball games feel choppy rather than dramatic. Moreover, bits of plot feel awkwardly smashed into place, giving the characters less time to breathe and be fleshed out. But perhaps most distracting is the movie's similarity -- and, alas, inferiority -- to Karel Reisz and James Toback's excellent 1974 film The Gambler, as well as the 2014 Mark Wahlberg remake.
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