How to Deter a Robber parents guide

How to Deter a Robber Parent Guide

This film combines a coming-of-age story with a home invasion thriller and a comedic romp in one violent package.

Overall D

Digital on Demand: Unfairly suspected of trying to rob their neighbor's house, a young couple prepare to safeguard their cabin before a roving group of house thieves come calling.

Release date July 16, 2021

Violence C
Sexual Content A-
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is How to Deter a Robber rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated How to Deter a Robber Not Rated

Run Time: 84 minutes

Parent Movie Review

While spending the holidays at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin, headstrong Madison (Vanessa Marano) and her boyfriend, Jimmy (Benjamin Papac), find themselves accused of robbery after investigating suspicious activity at their neighbor’s house. Now stuck at the cabin while the police investigate, Madison and Jimmy prepare themselves and the house in case they become the next victims in a string of robberies.

Dark comedy is not for everyone, and if that genre description automatically sets off alarm bells for you, you’re going to want to stay far away from How to Deter a Robber. Personally, I enjoy dark comedy most of the time, especially character driven ones, and this movie delivers on that front. The writers and the actors both supply more laughs than I expected. Vanessa Marano in particular shines as our main protagonist, delivering both humor and pathos. Somehow this film combines a coming-of-age story, a home invasion thriller, and a comedic romp into one weird but enjoyable package.

That all said, this production is rife with negative content, so a majority of viewers will likely be less entertained than I was. Of most concern to parents will be the amount of substance use by the young protagonists. Madison and Jimmy are 18 and they both drink alcohol in many scenes, and smoke marijuana at one point. Being 18 puts this content on the borderline of legality, depending on where you live, but the film is set in Wisconsin, where the legal drinking age is 21 and recreational marijuana is illegal, so I feel it necessary to point that out. Aside from illegal substance use, there is a high amount of swearing (including 25 sexual expletives), and a lot of guns being pointed at people. The climax of the film is surprisingly graphic, which was shocking after the comedic tone leading up to it. The movie has not been rated by the MPAA, but the profanity, violence, and drug use would push it into a Restricted rating.

Although I found the movie to be funny and well-acted, I can’t recommend it for most viewers. Illegal substance use, swearing, and violence will deter most audiences, regardless of the potential charm. It might sound like a quirky version of “Home Alone”, but its antics are definitely geared at older audiences. Let’s put it this way: Anyone too young to understand the meaning of “deter” is automatically too young for this movie.

Directed by Maria Bissell. Starring Vanessa Marano, Benjamin Papac, Chris Mulkey. Running time: 84 minutes. Theatrical release July 16, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for How to Deter a Robber

How to Deter a Robber
Rating & Content Info

Why is How to Deter a Robber rated Not Rated? How to Deter a Robber is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: Characters carry guns in multiple scenes. Characters are tied up. A woman’s nose is broken. A man is hit in the head and knocked out; blood is seen dripping from his head. A man is shot in the head; blood is shown.
Sexual Content: A couple kisses. A man jokes about wanting to have sex.
Profanity: There are over 25 uses of sexual expletives, along with over 20 uses of mild and moderate profanity. There are over 10 terms of deity. A rude sexual phrase is used once.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink alcohol throughout. Eighteen-year-olds are seen drinking beer in multiple scenes (this is set in the USA, so that is below the legal drinking age). An 18-year-old smokes marijuana in one scene. Characters play drinking games. A character is shown to be drunk. 

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How to Deter a Robber Parents' Guide

How does Madison grow over the course of the movie? What does she learn about herself and her relationships with other people?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

The classic family friendly version of this movie is Home Alone, in which a child successfully defends his home against two hapless burglars. Lightning strikes again in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Home Alone 3. Three siblings face a house under siege by beings they thought existed only in fairytales in The Spiderwick Chronicles.

If you like movies that terrorize people in their own homes, there are several films that fit the bill. Black Christmas sees sorority girls being stalked by a serial killer over the festive season. In Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, a woman is attacked in her own home; she uncovers a far more sinister truth behind the murder attempt. Dennis Quaid stars in The Intruder, where he stalks the young couple who have purchased his home.