Armageddon Time Parent Guide
A new generation. A new beginning.
Parent Movie Review
Although 12-year-old Paul Graff (Banks Rapeta) can think of better ways to spend a nice fall day in Queens, he’s shipped off to school for his first day of the sixth grade. His preferences for drawing and ignoring his teacher soon land him in trouble, and he finds himself sitting at the front of the class with Johnny (Jaylin Webb), the only African American student in the class, who is repeating the sixth grade. Although his parents hardly approve of his artistic aspirations, and don’t really seem to understand him, his grandfather Aaron (Anthony Hopkins) always has a kind word and a pocket full of treats for the boy. And as Paul begins to notice how differently he and Johnny are treated in similar circumstances, he finds himself relying more and more on his grandfather’s advice. Even with good grandparents, though, adolescence is more complicated than some good advice and a bag of jellybeans.
I had a really hard time organizing my thoughts on the film. On the one hand, it’s got some outstanding performances from Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, and Jaylin Webb, and the writing is, in parts, quite good. On the other hand, I struggled with Banks Repeta’s performance as Paul, and I wish the film had narrowed its focus some. It feels, at times, like it’s casting too broad a net, trying to talk about institutional racism, intergenerational trauma, immigrant experiences, adolescence, and even Fred Trump. There’s a lot going on, and it feels cluttered. This one of those movies where less would definitely be more.
Issues of focus aside, the film is well made, and the story does progress tidily. James Gray is a skilled director, but I think the autobiographical nature of the film might have dulled some of his keener instincts. Other films of his, namely Ad Astra and The Lost City of Z, share his skill behind the camera but benefit from a finer focus.
Parents less interested in the film’s social or artistic merits will have some serious concerns. Apart from a sprinkling of profanity which might not make this a winner with your own grandparents, there are scenes of violent child “discipline” (that we would now call child abuse) and kids smoking cannabis. Armageddon Time is unlikely to be a big hit with younger teens anyway, since I suspect they’d find the slightly meandering, introspective story a touch on the dull side. The film isn’t without its strong points, but it does spread them out a little thin for my taste. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because my theater was freezing cold – give it a watch in the warmth and let me know.Directed by James Gray. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Banks Repeta. Running time: 115 minutes. Theatrical release November 11, 2022. Updated November 11, 2022
Watch the trailer for Armageddon Time
Rating & Content Info
Why is Armageddon Time rated R? Armageddon Time is rated R by the MPAA for language and some drug use involving minors.
Violence: A child is thrashed with a belt.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are six sexual expletives, 16 scatological curses, one racial slur, and frequent mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Children are seen smoking marijuana.
Page last updated November 11, 2022
Armageddon Time Parents' Guide
What are some of the social issues the film addresses? How were those issues relevant in 1980? Are they more or less relevant today?