Not Okay Parent Guide
When the film's disclaimer warns that the protagonist is unlikeable, take it seriously.
Parent Movie Review
Aspiring writer and social media influencer Danni Sanders (Zoey Deutch) hasn’t reached her ambitious goals since being hired as a photo editor at online magazine Depravity. Despite submitting some articles to her editor, Danni seems unable to find a topic that isn’t either self-obsessed or tasteless. Not only can’t she get her editor’s attention, Danni can’t even catch the eye of Colin (Dylan O’Brien), a hotshot influencer with the company. So Danni develops a plan: she’ll invent a writers’ retreat in Paris, and manipulate pictures and social media to make it look like she’s spent a week relaxing in the City of Light, in hopes of leveraging the exposure into more influence at the office.
Scheming though Danni may be, even she can’t predict that midway through her “retreat”, a terrorist will detonate bombs at several major tourist spots around Paris – including the Champs-Élysées – not five minutes after she posts some doctored selfies next to the Arc de Triomphe. The outpouring of sympathy, concern, and most importantly, attention, sparks another idea: if Danni plays along and pretends to have survived the attack, she can use her “experiences” as a foundation for a writing career and celebrity based on online activism. With the unwitting help of Rowan (Mia Isaac), a high school student who survived a mass shooting, Danni sets out to make something of her life…but how long can she maintain the illusion? And what will happen when it collapses around her?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film with a disclaimer quite like this one - it includes a pretty standard warning for flashing lights and potentially traumatic topics, and then warns viewers that the film features an “unlikeable female protagonist”. Not quite sure why they had to include “female” there, but Danni does tick all the boxes. The film’s deliberate awareness that its protagonist is, to put it mildly, an unimaginable jerk, is what keeps it on the rails.
Not Okay constantly draws attention to Danni’s rapid-fire moral failings, contrasting them with the well intentioned hard work of the people unfortunate enough to be around her. By structuring itself this way, the movie is able to maintain the tension between what Danni does and what the audience (hopefully) knows would be the right thing to do, without making Danni overly sympathetic or painting other characters as irritating goody-goodies. It also draws attention to the significance of their causes, namely online harassment and gun violence.
Intriguing story aside, this is not a movie for younger audiences. Apart from the over five dozen uses of profanity, there’s quite a bit of drinking and cannabis use, as well as a particularly unpleasant (but mercifully short lived) sex scene which occurs in the bathroom of an exclusive nightclub. There’s no actual nudity, but the sound designers make sure you know what’s going on – behaviour that soon sees our protagonist standing outside a bodega, washing down some Plan B with a Diet Coke. (Sadly, that might be the most responsible thing Danni manages to do in the entire story.) But if you can suffer through her arrogance, ignorance, and complete moral color-blindness, there’s a halfway interesting movie in here with capable production and strong opinions – even if it might be carving off more than it can handle.Directed by Quinn Shephard. Starring Zoey Deutch, Dylan O'Brien and Embeth Davidtz. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release July 29, 2022. Updated July 30, 2022
Watch the trailer for Not Okay
Rating & Content Info
Why is Not Okay rated R? Not Okay is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, drug use, and some sexual content
Violence: There are several references to mass shootings and terrorist attacks, although these are not seen on screen.
Sexual Content: Characters are briefly seen having sex in a public bathroom, and one is seen taking emergency birth control afterwards.
Profanity: There are 45 uses of extreme profanity, 17 uses of scatological terms, and occasional uses of mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen taking alcohol (sometimes with antidepressant medication) and smoking marijuana.
Page last updated July 30, 2022
Not Okay Parents' Guide
Which of Danni’s choices do you find the most morally reprehensible? How does she justify her behaviors to herself? How does she manipulate the people around her? Who gets hurt by Danni’s actions?
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Zoey Deutch and Dylan O’Brien also played across one another in The Outfit, which stars Mark Rylance. Other films that deal with America’s school shooting epidemic include The Falloutand Mass, or documentaries like Bowling for Columbine, Parkland Rising, and Us Kids. If you’re looking for films about characters getting caught up in lies, try Breaking News in Yuba County, I Care a Lot, Easy A, Liar Liar, Mrs. Doubtfire, School of Rock, and Aladdin.