How to Blow Up a Pipeline parents guide

How to Blow Up a Pipeline Parent Guide

There isn't enough caffeine in the world to keep audiences awake throughout the movie's runtime.

Overall D

Theaters: A group of activists work together to blow up a pipeline in Texas in the hopes of damaging the fossil fuel industry.

Release date April 14, 2023

Violence D
Sexual Content B
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is How to Blow Up a Pipeline rated R? The MPAA rated How to Blow Up a Pipeline R for language throughout and some drug use

Run Time: 103 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Childhood friends Xochitl (Ariela Barer) and Theo (Sasha Lane) used to dance in the rain, unaware that it was contaminated by toxic chemicals. Now Xochitl has buried her mother and Theo has terminal cancer, thanks to environmental pollution. Determined to bring an end to the fossil fuel industry she blames for her mother’s death, Xochitl hatches a radical plan: she wants to sabotage America’s oil infrastructure, thus driving up the price of oil to the point that more climate-friendly options become viable. Not only will she avenge her loved ones, Xochitl also believes that her actions will catalyze a movement to save the planet from pollution and climate change.

Motivated though she may be, Xochitl can’t carry out her plan alone. She and Theo soon join forces with Michael (Forrest Goodluck), an indigenous activist in the Dakotas who makes bombs as a hobby and loathes the oil industry. Also in on the plot are Shawn (Marcus Scribner), a student who’s disillusioned by divestment as a green strategy and wants more radical action, and Dwayne (Jake Weary), an embittered rancher whose land has been seized for pipeline construction. Throw in a few more activists with varied motivations, and soon the plotters are ready to roll. They’ve picked a target – a pipeline in Texas – and now they’ve got to figure out how to blow it up without hurting anyone or winding up in prison. But the FBI is keeping an eye out for domestic terrorism, so the group needs to have a meticulous plan and carry it out flawlessly.

Whatever your feelings might be about climate issues, there’s no denying that this plot could be the basis of a fast-moving thriller. Unfortunately, director Daniel Goldhaber has created an overly earnest film with the plodding pace of a docudrama. This film is painfully slow and excruciatingly dull. It’s at its best when it focuses on the backstories of its characters and its worst when we spend hours (that’s what it feels like) watching Michael make bombs. There isn’t enough caffeine in the world to keep most viewers awake for the first half of the runtime.

Boredom aside, the movie’s biggest problem is its implicit support for terrorism, defined as “using violence to force political change”. The young conspirators have a brief discussion about becoming terrorists and about the ethics of their actions. One of them even wonders if it’s acceptable to do something that will cause widespread economic pain for the poor, but that’s as far as it goes. They immediately return to planning how they will use violence to solve a problem – not exactly a life hack most parents want their kids to absorb.

Given the gigantic moral and ethical hole at the center of the plot, this is clearly not a move for family audiences. Its Restricted rating underlines this: the movie is replete with scenes of alcohol consumption, smoking, and cocaine use. There is also abundant profanity, including 80 sexual expletives. Throw in extensive scenes of bomb-making, a plot to blow up infrastructure, and scenes of people being shot and otherwise injured, and this isn’t exactly a popcorn flick. There are better environmental films out there and far more exciting thrillers. Do yourself a favor and skip this dud.

Directed by Daniel Goldhaber. Starring Ariela Barer, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Jake Weary. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release April 14, 2023. Updated

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How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Rating & Content Info

Why is How to Blow Up a Pipeline rated R? How to Blow Up a Pipeline is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout and some drug use

Violence: People slash vehicle tires with a knife. There are frequent scenes of a character manufacturing explosives. A person uses bolt cutters in an attempt to break into a house. A man inadvertently causes an explosion. A man spits at someone and the two have a fistfight. A man fires a gun at someone. A man is shot in the shoulder and is later seen screaming in pain as the bullet is removed. Bombs explode. Police strike out at unarmed suspects. A man knocks a drone out of the sky. A woman has a broken leg when a heavy object falls on her.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. Two women kiss. A man and woman kiss passionately and she unbuckles his pants but nothing else is seen.
Profanity: The script contains well over ten dozen swear words, with at least 80 sexual expletives, close to two dozen scatological curses, 13 terms of deity, and a handful of minor profanities. There is also a crude term for male genitalia.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A woman takes unspecified pills and drinks alcohol from a flask. People snort cocaine and then drive a vehicle. Adults smoke cigarettes and are frequently seen drinking beer.
Other: A woman vomits into a toilet. A sick woman collapses at work.

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How to Blow Up a Pipeline Parents' Guide

What are the motivations the conspirators have for bombing the pipeline?  Do you find any of them sympathetic? What non-violent options do you think they could have pursued to achieve their goals? What non-violent strategies have been successful for other groups seeking large-scale change?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Julia Roberts stars in Erin Brockovich as a woman who works with a lawyer on a class action lawsuit to stop pollution by an electrical utility. In Dark Waters, a lawyer goes after a chemical company whose non-stick cookware has caused catastrophic health problems for its employees and residents near its plant.

I Am Greta is a documentary about Great Thunberg, a youthful climate activist with a global reputation.

If you’re looking for environmentally themed movies for kids, you can try The Lorax, Wall-E, or FernGully: The Last Rainforest.