Searching parents guide

Searching Parent Guide

This film breaks new ground in moviemaking as the entire story is literally told on screens, which helps make the movie a gripping and emotional viewing experience.

Overall A-

When his 16-year-old daughter (Sara Sohn) doesn't return after pulling an all-nighter with her school study group, David Kim (John Cho) reports her missing. To help the investigating detective (Debra Messing), David begins searching his daughter's laptop computer for clues. What he finds brings him little comfort or hope.

Release date August 31, 2018

Violence B+
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C+
Substance Use D

Why is Searching rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Searching PG-13 for thematic content, some drug and sexual references, and for language.

Run Time: 101 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Director Aneesh Chaganty begins Searching with a wink to the audience. This film, which is about a missing teenage girl, introduces us to her high school slogan: “Home of the Catfish”. For those of us who are not up to date on current word usage, a “catfish” is someone who creates a fake online persona. It’s not very subtle, but it certainly fits this story.

The plot focuses on the Kim family in San Jose, California: David (John Cho), mourning his wife, Pamela (Sarah Sohn), who died of cancer, and their daughter, Margot (Michelle La). David misses a call from his daughter one night, and over the course of the next day frantically and unsuccessfully tries to reach her. Starting to panic, he files a missing persons report with the local police. The case is picked up by Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing), who enlists David’s help in sorting through his daughter’s friends and schoolmates. In doing so, David learns that he has been unaware of significant aspects of Margot’s life. As the investigation proceeds, David is taken on an emotional rollercoaster of fear, despair, anxiety, and anger. Finally, David realizes that no amount of personal vigilance could have prevented his daughter’s disappearance, but perhaps a more empathetic and personal relationship could have made Margot safer.

This film breaks new ground in moviemaking as the entire story is literally told on screens: laptops, TV’s, cell phones, and security cameras. It’s a startlingly realistic portrayal of modern computer use (despite the fact that David seems to keep his webcam window open on his computer far more than most people would), and it manages to add a lot of detail to his character. We get to see not only the messages he sends, but also the ones he deletes. It makes for a gripping look into a man’s personal life as it crumbles around him.

Searching is a powerful film that almost brought me – usually impervious to drama-induced emotion – to tears. It is not suitable for children or most teens and is a very difficult story for parents (especially anxious ones). Unlike other thrillers of this kind, Searching does not focus on the police or on the individual twists and turns of the investigation. This picture is about every parent’s worst nightmare, and it does not shy away from the emotional impact that a missing child would have. If you’re not up for listening to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”, you should give this one a miss.

Parents or teens who watch this well written and thought-provoking movie will find much to discuss. Internet safety and the minefields of parenting come to mind. This movie also lends itself to a conversation that is even more important than “teach your daughter to be careful”: the discussion around “teach your son not to be a predator”. We expect young women to take extraordinary measures to ensure their own safety on the assumption that we can’t stop the people who would seek to harm them. It is certainly important for everyone to exercise discretion and good judgment in real life and online. Giving out personal information to strangers is a bad idea. However, we need to remember that we are not powerless to prevent these problems. Parents can teach young men to respect the word “no” and can make sure they understand that they are not at liberty to harass, assault, or pressure young women into situations they don’t want to be in. It is true that even the best parental efforts will not prevent 100% of the attacks on young women. But we can certainly do our best to make sure no one else has to follow David Kim’s searching journey.

Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Starring John Cho, Debra Messing, Sara Sohn, Joseph Lee. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release August 31, 2018. Updated

Searching
Rating & Content Info

Why is Searching rated PG-13? Searching is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic content, some drug and sexual references, and for language.

Violence: A minor altercation between and adult and a teenager in a theater is visible on a blurry cell phone video. A few people get minor scrapes and abrasions. An individual is alleged to have committed suicide, but this is not shown.
Sexual Content: Sexual abuse of minors is hinted at, but does not take place, even off-screen. Two crude but not explicit text messages are seen.
Profanity: Seven total uses of profanity. Two sexual expletives are shown in writing but are censored. One is spoken aloud. There are a few terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Marijuana is shown in a jar and characters discuss its use by teenagers, but this is not shown.

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Searching Parents' Guide

What can families do to ensure safe internet use? What do you do to make sure you are using safe surfing practices? How can kids and teens be safe online?

Why does our society seem to put the onus for personal safety on women, to the point that it significantly affects their behavior? What can be done to teach young men not to be predators?

Do you think this story would have been different if David and Margot had been able to talk about Pamela’s death? How can parents help their children cope with loss and sadness? How have you dealt with grief?

News About "Searching"

The plot of Searching is uniquely told completely through shots of computer screens. The movie will open in select theaters on August 24, 2018, and expand to a wider release on August 31, 2018.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Another father searches for his lost daughter in Taken.

John Cho gives a stirring performance in this film as a distraught and terrified father. See him take a somewhat lighter turn in Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness, in which he plays Hikaru Sulu, the famous helmsman of the USS Enterprise.

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