What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this relentlessly dark picture of America and its values at the turn of the 21st century may have won a Best Picture Oscar, but it definitely isn't for kids. The film takes a hard, often bleakly comic look at the dissolution of the family and is full of sex, drugs, bigotry, and hypocrisy. Graphically sexual images include an adult fantasizing about his young daughter’s seductive friend, an adulterous relationship in a motel, masturbation, and partial nudity on several occasions. Homosexuality and homophobia are addressed. A young man is brutally beaten by his father more than once, and there are disturbing, bloody images of the violent death of a leading character. Language is coarse and explicit throughout, with constant use of sexual dialogue, swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and terms disparaging to women and homosexuals. Kids and adults smoke pot in many scenes, and “getting high” is seen as a release from daily despair.
  • Families can talk about the sexual behavior of the movie's teenage characters. How do the characters feel about sex? What are the consequences of their decisions and behavior? Do these seem realistic?
  • How does the movie address questions of teen identity? Do the teenagers in this movie feel real to you? Why or why not?
  • This movie isn't for most teens, but those who do see it can use it as a way to begin conversations about the ways that families communicate, the choices we make about sex and drugs, and the ways that we find meaning in a complicated world.
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