13 Minutes parents guide

13 Minutes Parent Guide

With too many characters and plot elements, this movie will have viewers' head spinning before the tornado roars into town.

Overall B-

In Theaters: The residents of a town in the prairies have their lives upended when a tornado tears through their community.

Release date October 29, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content B
Profanity C-
Substance Use A

Why is 13 Minutes rated PG-13? The MPAA rated 13 Minutes PG-13 for peril, bloody images, thematic elements and some strong language

Run Time: 108 minutes

Parent Movie Review

We’ve all seen the aftermath of tornadoes on the evening news – houses crushed like matchsticks, cars flipped over, huge swaths of communities destroyed. If you ever wondered what it’s like to live through one of these climate disasters, 13 Minutes brings the horrifying reality to the big screen.

Natural disaster movies tend to follow a pattern: introduce the main characters, watch as a disaster strikes their unsuspecting community, and show the protagonists recovering from the catastrophe. Where 13 Minutes fails is in the first section. This movie has such a huge cast of characters that it’s almost impossible to care deeply about any of them, simply because there isn’t enough time to get to know them well. They are all sketched out in broad strokes, existing in shorthand, but not as real people.

It feels like the movie is trying to introduce the entire prairie town. There’s the farmer with financial troubles, his wife who works at the pregnancy crisis center, and their son, who’s hiding a secret (played by Trace Adkins, Anne Heche and Will Peltz). There’s Ana, the hotel chambermaid (Paz Vega) who has just given a big surprise to her undocumented fiancé (Yancey Arias), who works for the aforementioned farmer. Then there’s the mechanic’s receptionist (Thora Birch), whose unmarried daughter, Maddy (Sofia Vassilieva) is trying to decide what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. There’s also the local TV meteorologist, his wife who works in the government’s emergency planning department, and their deaf daughter, who is sometimes babysat by the previously mentioned pregnant young woman (Peter Facinelli, Amy Smart, and Shaylee Mansfield). Throw in extras like the motel owner, the ambulance driver, the baby daddy, the condescending realtor, and the lecherous garage owner, and there are more than enough people filling the screen to keep viewers’ heads spinning – and that’s before the storm barrels into town.

On top of overstuffing the casting roster, 13 Minutes shoehorns in too many storylines – in fact, it starts to feel like a soap opera mixed in with an emergency public service announcement. There’s a subplot about accepting gay family members and a recurring theme about valuing the work and sacrifices of immigrants. There’s also a story arc about abortion which will upset viewers on both sides of the fence. When Maddy goes to a women’s health clinic for what she thinks is abortion counseling, the woman performing the ultrasound repeatedly urges her to marry the father. Her behavior is so intrusive, so overbearing that regardless of your beliefs about abortion, this must be seen as a significant ethical breach for anyone providing medical services. On the flip side, Maddy’s mother bluntly tells her that it’s her body, her choice - and she should only have the baby if she’s prepared to raise it. I’m not sure why the screenwriters included this plotline: it’s not necessary to the film and it will alienate viewers on both the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the debate

Disaster fans who have gamely disentangled the multiple plot lines will finally feel like they’ve got their money’s worth when the storm hits. This tornado is terrifying. When the giant funnel seen over the town, it’s scary enough, but then the rain, winds, and hail come roaring in. As the storm rumbles through town, it destroys everything – tossing around vehicles, throwing buildings apart, and even punching steel walls. When it finally ends, the survivors stagger into the sunlight, looking at a landscape as alien as the moon.

13 Minutes can be a scary movie, but it also provides messages about family devotion, commitment, self-awareness, courage, authenticity, sacrifice and love. If the plot’s excesses don’t deter you, the film has some great messages about public service and pulling together. This movie will give you plenty to talk about with your teens – and might even get them to pay attention when you organize a family emergency plan.

Directed by Lindsay Gossling. Starring Thora Birch, Anne Heche, Paz Vega, Sofia Vassilieva. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release October 29, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for 13 Minutes

13 Minutes
Rating & Content Info

Why is 13 Minutes rated PG-13? 13 Minutes is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for peril, bloody images, thematic elements and some strong language

Violence:   Lightning strikes a barn, causing a fire. A man throws an alarm clock at a hotel maid. Boys accidentally knock over a little girl. Scenes of mild cartoon violence are seen on TV. There are scenes of extreme peril as people are caught in a tornado. There are scenes of destruction. A man’s hand is caught in a vehicle and he cuts it out as he screams; blood is visible. Dead and wounded people are seen in the debris.
Sexual Content: An unmarried couple are seen in bed together but without any sexual activity. An unmarried woman tries to decide what to do about her pregnancy. A man slaps a coworker’s behind. A man tells his parents that he’s gay. Two gay men embrace.
Profanity:  There are just over a dozen profanities in the movie including a single sexual expletive, five scatological curses, four terms of deity, a minor profanity, and an anatomical expression. There is also an ethnic slur aimed at a Hispanic man.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   None noted.

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13 Minutes Parents' Guide

What natural disasters or climate emergencies are most common in your region? What advice do local emergency authorities provide to residents? Do you have an emergency plan for your family? What can you do to be more prepared?

You can find information about tornado safety here:

CDC: Staying Safe in a Tornado

FEMA: Tornado

Canadian Red Cross: Tornadoes: Before, During & After

For general advice about emergency preparedness, you can follow these links:

Ready.gov: Disasters and Emergencies

FEMA: Are You Ready?

Ready.gov: Build a Kit

Canadian Red Cross: Be Ready: Emergency Preparedness and Recovery


Home Video

Related home video titles:

If you can’t get enough of tornadoes, you can watch Twister, which stars Helen Hunt as a storm chaser who gets more than she bargains for. Into the Storm tells the story of a group of high school students who try to document a tornado – from the inside. Just add water and you’ll get a hurricane, which is the event that triggers The Perfect Storm. In this movie, a fishing boat is caught in a hurricane and its crew struggles to survive.