Spontaneous Parent Guide
This production wins big points for realistic teen dialogue - but it comes with lots of swearing.
Parent Movie Review
Mara Carlyle (Katherin Langford) fully expects her pre-calculus class to drone on uninterrupted for the rest of eternity, roughly – until Katelyn (Mellany Barros), who sits in front of her, spontaneously explodes. There was no bomb, she simply self-destructed. After the entire class pays a lengthy visit to the police station, the students are allowed to return home, but it isn’t long before another student combusts. As life comes to a grinding halt for the entire senior class, Dylan (Charlie Plummer) decides to live life for today and tells Mara he’s had a crush on her for years. Burgeoning romance aside, students continue to explode, seemingly at random. With neither a cure nor a pattern in sight, the students begin to accept that any moment could be their last.
Despite the high school setting, this isn’t a movie some parents are going to want their teenager to watch. Extensive profanity and drug use (along with brief sexuality) are probably going to make for uncomfortable family viewing. Although it is worth noting that the film is remarkably realistic in its portrayal of what goes on in high school – barring the explosions, that is. Recollecting my high school years, I can attest that none of the more salacious elements would have been out of place in my graduating class.
This film wins huge points from me for the realism of the dialogue (the downside being a fair bit of swearing and 59 sexual expletives). Writing natural dialogue is tricky, and even harder when writing for teenagers whose take on language evolves seemingly daily. But the characters in Spontaneous all act (and sound) like teens, which is something of an achievement.
Even for mature audiences who might not have an issue with the content, this isn’t going to be a film for everyone. There’s a heavy dose of zillenial ennui, and if you’re not familiar with the existential dread that plagues this generation, the humor might not land for you. The movie’s depiction of the harsh vibes of living in desperate uncertainty is certainly resonant for everyone who graduated high school in the face of environmental catastrophe, political crisis, and economic uncertainty. It’s not easy to plan a future when it seems like the world is ending – and no one I went to school with decided to play hand-grenade in class.Directed by Brian Duffield. Starring Katherine Langford, Piper Perabo, and Charlie Plummer. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release October 2, 2020. Updated October 7, 2020
Watch the trailer for Spontaneous
Rating & Content Info
Why is Spontaneous rated R? Spontaneous is rated R by the MPAA for teen drug and alcohol use, language and bloody images throughout.
Violence: Multiple characters messily explode in showers of gore.
Sexual Content: There are a number of sexual jokes and comments. There is a scene of implied off-camera sex between teenage characters.
Profanity: There are 59 uses of sexual expletives, 28 uses of scatological cursing, and occasional use of mild profanity and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Teen characters are shown drinking to excess, smoking marijuana, and in one instance ingesting psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Some of these substances are used with parental consent or assistance.
Page last updated October 7, 2020
Spontaneous Parents' Guide
What parts of this film would resonate with a younger audience? Although spontaneous explosion isn’t an ongoing concern for youth, what societal problems threaten the futures of young people? What do you think could be done to fix those problems?
Mara clearly struggles in the latter half of the film to cope with what’s going on around her. How does she respond? How do her friends and family try to help her? In what way do you think they should have changed their response to be more effective?
In the film, many students attempt to take responsibility for the “curse”. Why do you think that is?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Both The Fault in Our Stars and Perks of Being a Wallflower are based on novels by John Green and Stephen Chbosky respectively.
Related home video titles:
This is sort of an edgier (and more generationally relevant) version of The Fault in Our Stars. Another high school movie with some rough-around-the-edges content but strong messages is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you’re hungry for more millennial existentialism, Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die ought to do nicely.