Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 13+
Cheesy '80s comedy still works thanks to Fox-y star.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this popular teen comedy seems to endorse such boys-gone-wild stuff as underage drinking/drugging, reckless vehicle operation, and youthful sex, though such activities are mostly kept to the margins. Girls are briefly shown in bras and panties. There are references to homosexuality, including the pejorative “fag” tossed casually around, even by the nice-guy hero. Viewers hoping for more intensity are barking up the wrong werewolf movie; no real horror here. The sequel, Teen Wolf 2 (sometimes bundled on the same DVD) is much the same but doesn’t have the virtue of Michael J. Fox in the lead -- Jason Bateman played a cousin instead.
- Families can talk about how filmmakers have used the idea of a youth becoming a werewolf or monster as a metaphor for puberty, raging hormones, and tumultuous maturation, classic depictions being I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Ginger Snaps, and The Company of Wolves. Ask teens if they relate to the idea.
- Instead of all the students fearing/hating “the Wolf,” they like him even better than ordinary Scott Howard. Ask kids if they think this is really how their world works. Who are the most popular kids, and why?
The good stuff
Positive messages: On the plus side, Scott worries about whether his elevated status as a
wolf-boy is earned or not, and how this affects his relationships. He
ends up imparting a message of self-actualization (without the hairy
transformation) to his teammates. Reckless teen behavior includes a goal of alcohol-drinking, and boys dangerously "surfing" by standing on top of a moving van on the road (one even falls, but no injury); this is taken as a sign of strength and machismo.
Positive role models: While the leading man dives into premarital sex and other questionable behavior, Michael J. Fox invests his character with an innate likeability. Scott never uses his wolfish, predator side to go full Incredible-Hulk and hurt anyone (even when he’s bullied). Some adults (especially Scott’s dad) are okay folks; others are amusingly mean or foolish (a coach who pretends he can heroically mentor students through their issues but who really doesn’t want to hear any messy personal problems). Compared to the enmity and scorn heaped on parents and authority figures in other films of this era, the tone is quite mild.
What to watch for
Violence: A few fistfights, with suggestions that Scott, as a wolf, could really hurt people if he really tried (but he doesn’t).
Sexy stuff: The main character has (offscreen) sex with a classmate; no nudity shown, but she strips to her underwear and removes her bra (shown from the back) in anticipation. Boys and girls acting flirty at a raucous party, including one guy shoving his face into a (willing) co-ed's bosom. Brief shot of girl and guy tied up and covered in shaving cream and little else in some sort of party game. Homosexual and “fag” references include a double-entendre joke about "coming out of the closet."
Language: "Bastard," "ball-buster," “dicknose,” “fag,” “damn.”
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Scenes in which the underage hero and his buddies conspire to try to get alcohol from a liquor store (including via robbery). Scott’s cool buddy has a “stash” of herbal-looking stuff in a plastic bag; you can guess what that’s supposed to be.