Parents' Guide to


By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Witty concept falls flat in teen dramedy with crude humor.

Movie NR 2022 97 minutes
Wyrm Movie Poster

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Horny and mournful are an ambitious combination for a 97-minute comedy, and Christopher Winterbauer doesn't quite make it work. It's easy to see why his original short film, also titled Wyrm, got attention on the festival circuit. The metaphor of teens wearing a burdensome weight above their shoulders as a visual indicator to society that they haven't yet "popped their collar" is clever, as well as a good reminder of how self-conscious teens can feel when it seems like everyone else in school is exploring their "first time." And both teens and adults are likely to appreciate the movie's alt-'90s setting, in which government intervention on citizens' bodies has swung in a way that could almost be considered too sex-positive. (The most hilarious part of the film is in the background: the "No Child Left Alone" public service announcement signs reflecting the worry that kids might grow up to be lonely.)

But in the full-length Wyrm, writer-director Winterbauer abandons the central concept halfway through. In interviews, he has explained that he wanted to show how high schoolers can feel pressure to advance up the sexual ladder, but that there's much more to enjoying your teen years than putting a notch in your belt. He also aims to show that the kind of side characters who may be thinly drawn in other films actually live rich, complex lives. Both are powerful notions, but here it just makes for a boring film. Wyrm's existence switches from being the last kid in school to get his first kiss to being the kid whose older brother died and is part of a family that's handling their grief poorly. It's terribly sad, not terribly interesting, and it's likely to leave viewers feeing like they've been the victims of a bait and switch. Still, while this effort can feel like falling into a wyrmhole, Winterbauer clearly has talent for creating quirky characters and original concepts, and an unusual sense of humor that could prove to be wonderful, so keep him on your watch list.

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