Boyhood parents guide

Boyhood Parent Guide

Despite its almost three-hour length, "Boyhood" is quite engaging.

Overall B

Boyhood follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows from a child to a man. But this is not a documentary! Instead it is a fictitious story about a family (his parents are played by Patricia Arquettea and Ethan Hawke) that took 12 years to shoot -- and allowed all of the characters to age naturally.

Release date July 11, 2014

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

Why is Boyhood rated R? The MPAA rated Boyhood R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.

Run Time: 166 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Why is it that when someone needs psychiatric help, the doctor always begins by asking him or her about their childhood? It appears that the experiences of those developing years really do impact a person’s understanding of everything in life and the surrounding world.

In Boyhood, writer/director Richard Linklater takes a creative approach to exploring this formative stage. Asking for a twelve-year commitment from his cast members, Linklater began shooting a story about a youngster named Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) when he was five years old, updating his progress annually until he was eighteen. Although the movie may look like a documentary, it isn’t. Instead, it is a well-scripted fictional tale, and all of the family members are actors. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s parents, while the filmmaker’s own daughter (Lorelei Linklater) takes on the role of his sister Samantha.

Certainly, the unique method of constructing this film is reason enough to be curious about the end product. Watching Ellar Coltrane (and Lorelei Linklater) grow up right before your eyes is truly amazing, as is the natural aging that occurs for both Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The inclusion of other actors that make periodic appearances over the dozen years as extended family and friends, also lends authenticity to what often feels like watching someone’s home videos (except these vignettes capture more pivotal moments than just birthdays and holidays). Meanwhile, a story emerges from this collection of clips in much the same way as an image materializes from the tiny pieces that make up a mosaic.

Despite its length (almost three hours), Boyhood is quite engaging. First introductions to Mason show a child growing up in a broken family, where Mom provides the stability and Dad offers fun on the weekends. As life evolves the kids get shuffled from city to city, school to school and home to home. Both Mom and Dad find other relationships, some more successful than others. Mason endures bullying and domestic abuse (as do some of the other characters). And as a teen he keeps his personal life private from the adults in his world, while he experiments with alcohol, drugs and sex. (Substance abuse and drug use are shown, along with kissing and implied sexual relations. Expect some strong language and sexual discussions too.)

Although Linklater’s time capsule (which includes music, pop culture and historical events occurring during the years he shot the film) may be most notable for its gimmick, how audiences react to it will likely have a lot to do with their own upbringing. While some may relate to the insecurities children experience due to their parents’ decisions, for me Boyhood was a tragedy. Having enjoyed happy, confidence-building relationships within my own family, it broke my heart to see the character of Mason having to rely on his own youthful judgment because he lacks a trusted source of mature wisdom. (I can only hope the real Ellar Coltrane faired better over the same twelve-year period.) I’m not sure what message Linklater hoped viewers would take away from this movie. Perhaps he just intended it to be an observation of childhood. For me it rang more as a cautionary tale for parents. After all, no man is an island—so whatever choices we make, we should expect them to have long-lasting consequences for our offspring.

Directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Salmon Coltrane, Ethan Hawke. Running time: 166 minutes. Theatrical release July 11, 2014. Updated

Rating & Content Info

Why is Boyhood rated R? Boyhood is rated R by the MPAA for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use.

Adults argue with each other. Children and spouses are verbally and physically abused—a man throws things at them, threatens them and hits them. Bullying occurs, sometimes between children and sometimes between adults and children. Frightened children lock themselves in their bedrooms to avoid a drunken and abusive man. Teens play recklessly with tools at a construction site. Teens lie to their parents.

Sexual Content:
Sexual relations are implied between adults, as well as teen couples (one young couple is shown in bed together). Teens embrace and kiss. Youth engage in detailed sexual discussions using crude anatomical terms and language.

The sexual expletive and variations are used frequently. Scatological slang, profanity, cursing, and vulgar expressions are also included. Some ethno-cultural slurs are heard.

Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters drink alcohol frequently, and some characters are depicted as alcoholics. A drunken character gets a child to buy him more liquor—and the storeowner agrees to sell it to the minor. Characters smoke. Illegal drugs are used by teens (shown), and some are depicted as being high.

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Boyhood Parents' Guide

Boyhood is releasing in limited theaters on July 17, 2014..

From the Studio:
Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay’s Yellow to Arcade Fire’s Deep Blue. BOYHOOD is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.—Written by IFC Films

More About the Movie:
Director Richard Linklater certainly gets credit for both creativity and patience. He used a similar approach in making his romantic trilogy (Before Sunrise - 1995, Before Sunset - 2004 and Before Midnight - 2013), which follows the same couple (played each time by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) at nine-year intervals.

Talk about the movie with your family…

How do the parents evolve over the course of the twelve years shown in the movie? What influences the mother to become less committed to parenting? What experiences may have caused the father to become more responsible as time passes?

When the mother removes Mason and Samantha from their alcoholic stepfather, she leaves his own children in his custody. Why? What can children do to protect themselves from abusive family situations?

Why are events, like moving, changing schools or re-marriages, so traumatic for children? What things might be done to try and ease the associated stresses? Why does it seem like the adults portrayed here fail to do many (if any) of those things?

Why might adults forget to consider the consequence their children may experience when they make decisions? Are there any choices parents can make that affect only themselves? Or do all actions have an impact others?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Boyhood movie is January 6, 2015. Here are some details…

Boyhood releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) on January 6, 2015. Special features include:
- The 12 Year Project
- Q&A with Richard Linklater and the Cast


Related home video titles:

The challenges of growing up are also depicted in The Way Way Back, The Mighty and The Past.

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