Parents' Guide to

Zeroville

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Loopy James Franco dramedy has sex, drugs, punk attitude.

Movie R 2019 96 minutes
Zeroville Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

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Is It Any Good?

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Cinephiles will squeal with joy watching a movie that's chock-full of classic film references, but for everyone else, it's a big WHAAAAAT? Zeroville is a project unapologetically made for film geeks -- the source material is a love letter to the art of film editing -- and Franco's directorial effort is an act of reverence to the filmmakers who came before him. If only he were a better filmmaker himself. Just about everything Steve Erickson did right in his 2007 novel is off in Franco's movie, including his performance as socially inept Vikar.

Franco appears to have cast the film right out of his contacts list; his co-stars are all colleagues and friends, including Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. The problem is, they turn in winky, comically broad supporting performances that don't fit the somber, more authentic portrayals of core characters Vikar, Soledad, and Zazi. It's the first of many directing choices that don't add up, resulting in a product that's heady at best and scattered at worst. When the story follows a fast-rising creative professional who gets hung up on a complicated actress, it's quirky but it works. But when it takes a hard left into fantasy fiction for film historians, general audiences are likely to find the result confusing, corny, or catastrophic. It's disappointing that a story meant to celebrate our relationship with film results in a recommendation to just read the book.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 20, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2019
  • Cast: James Franco , Megan Fox , Seth Rogen
  • Director: James Franco
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors, Bisexual actors
  • Studio: myCinema
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language throughout, some sexual content/nudity and brief drug use
  • Last updated: June 22, 2023

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