8 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Before I Fall’

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Before I Fall opened in theaters last week, and it is a potential movie to see for people who don’t want to see giant gorillas. Read below to see if you should take the kids… or just as likely, if you should OK the trip by your younger teen to see it with friends.

1. What’s it about?

The movie is based on a best-selling book with the same title, but basically, it’s Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls set in the Pacific Northwest. Oh, and unlike those other two movies, this one is decidedly not a comedy.

2. What’s it rated?

The movie is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language–all involving teens.” That pretty nicely sums it up. The one day the movie’s protagonist, Sam (played very nicely by Lea Thompson’s daughter Zoey Deutch), has to keep reliving is the Friday before Valentine’s Day (which her school, rather annoyingly, calls “Cupid’s Day”). It’s a day where she and her group of friends mercilessly taunt the other kids at school they don’t like, plan to attend a party where all of the kids get sloppy drunk, and discuss how Sam is going to lose her virginity to her boyfriend. There isn’t a ton of language, but I do recall at least one “f” bomb and lots of “s.” And while there was no actual nudity, there were enough shots of women in their bras to fill a Sears catalog.

3. Will adults like it?

The movie is well put together and well acted, if at times quite melodramatic. It is very heavy, but there are a lot of shots of the spectacular Pacific Northwest scenery to look at.

4. Will my kids like it? 

I certainly wouldn’t take young kids to see it, but teens, particularly girls, will almost certainly enjoy it. At least from what I can tell from my daughter, a lot of it speaks to the modern high school experience. Which, if true, also means that, depressingly, the high school experience hasn’t changed a whole lot in 30 years.

5. Should I see it with the kids?

Obviously, each family if different and that’s a choice based on your kids. My teenage daughter is seeing it with her friends, and I am glad that I saw it separately so that she can have that time but I can still talk to her about it. Because that’s the thing: without getting into spoiler country, I will say that there are a lot of issues that are brought up by this movie that might be good starting points for discussions with your teenager, including bullying, sex, drinking, unsafe driving, and more.

6. How long is it?

The movie is nicely edited at runs a brisk 98 minutes.

7. When can I sneak out for a potty break?

The movie is so short you might be able to make it, but if not, there’s a point almost exactly half way where we get the inevitable montage of Sam waking up over and over and over again. It’s a couple of minutes where nothing important happens.

8. Is anyone I’ll recognize in it?

There were several actors who I thought looked by people I recognized, but besides Ms. Deutch (whom you may remember from Bad Grandpa, or just because she looks exactly like her mother did at that age), it turns out I was wrong. Other than the tiniest of roles for X-Files alum Nicholas Lea, it’s a young, mostly unknown cast.

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