Firestarter parents guide

Firestarter Parent Guide

Almost completely incoherent, this film feels like a series of randomly selected and poorly developed vignettes from its source novel.

Overall D-

Theaters: In this adaptation of a Stephen King novel, a young girl can set massive fires with the power of her mind. The federal government is trying to capture her, so her parents have taken her on the run.

Release date May 13, 2022

Violence D
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use B

Why is Firestarter rated R? The MPAA rated Firestarter R for violent content

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

After participating in a strange hallucinogenic chemical test in college, Andy McGee (Zac Efron) and his now wife, Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) developed unusual powers – Vicky gained the ability to move objects with her mind, and Andy could “push” people to do things with his mind. Their daughter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), is far more powerful. She can create and manipulate fire – she just can’t control it. Now the people who dosed her parents with the substance that gave them their powers have heard of her, and they want to study her powers…forever. Desperate to save their child, Andy and Vicky prepare to go on the run – if they can get out in time.

This soulless husk of a film is all the more disappointing as it’s shambling about in the skin of an exciting, dramatic, and emotional Stephen King story. Producer Akiva Goldsman was also responsible for screenwriting another butchery of King’s work, The Dark Tower, which I believed (until now) to be one of the most soulless, pointless, and uninspired crimes against an author to be put to film. But Firestarter really gives it a run for its money.

Where The Dark Tower at least had Idris Elba, every single actor in this film is miscast. Even if they’d hired the entire shortlist for Best Actor awards, though, this film would have been a disaster. The script expertly carves out every meaningful plot element, leaving its tragically misplayed characters to trudge senselessly towards the film’s bizarre conclusion, blissfully unaware that they are less than a pale shadow of real characters. I’ve had dental appointments with more excitement and intrigue than this story.

Parents, even those unfamiliar with the finer points of Stephen King’s work, likely have a good idea that he is hardly a children’s author. Although the film disregards everything else about his writing, it managed to maintain a distinctly adult level of violence. A significant number of characters, and at least one innocent cat, are incinerated – although not infrequently, survive writhing in agony long enough for the protagonist to feel a bit guilty and then finish them off. If you were wondering, that’s a very similar experience to being in the audience.

Less a film and more a series of randomly selected and poorly developed vignettes from a novel, Firestarter fails on every level a film can fail on. Not only is it a poor adaptation, it is a damning confession that the filmmakers have no concept of story, character, or plot. I would gladly choose to be immolated before ever clapping eyes on this festering carcass of a film again. And so would you, if you’d had to watch it.

Directed by Keith Thomas. Starring Ryan Keira Armstrong, Zac Efron, Sydney Lemmon. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release May 13, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Firestarter

Rating & Content Info

Why is Firestarter rated R? Firestarter is rated R by the MPAA for violent content

Violence: There are frequent scenes of violence involving fire. Mind control is used to cause fires. A cat is set on fire. There are some close up shots of burned bodies. There are scenes of threat involving weapons. In one, a man holds a knife to a girl’s threat and hunts down her family. In other scenes, people are shot, with visible blood spurts. People with supernatural powers bleed from their eyes. A close up shot shows a student’s eyeball falling to the ground during an experiment. A child is bullied at school.
Sexual Content: None
Profanity: There are approximately a dozen uses of profanity, including infrequent use of a sexual expletive as well as scatological curses, anatomical curses, terms of deity, and mild profanities.
Drugs/Alcohol: There are verbal drug references.

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Loved this movie? Try these books…

The film is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Other thrilling King novels include The Dead Zone, The Dark Half, Needful Things, and The Stand.

Home Video

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Far better adaptations of King’s work can be found in films like Misery, The Shining, Stand by Me, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Doctor Sleep, and The Mist.