Us Kids Parent Guide
Despite its topic, this documentary is guardedly hopeful rather than depressing.
Parent Movie Review
On Valentine’s Day, 2018, Sam Fuentes was just another student at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Then she got shot in the legs, had her face pierced by flying shrapnel, and watched her friend Nicholas Dworet die. Speaking later that year, she reflected, “Not only has the shooting almost taken my life, it’s taken away my sense of safety, it’s taken my sanity…It took everything.” These feelings of loss, grief, devastation, and rage fueled a wave of student activism that is remaking the landscape of American electoral politics.
Us Kids follows the most well known Parkland activists – David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky – as they call for change in the days after the shooting. It surveys their work on the first March for our Lives protest and their summer Road to Change bus tour. Through all the events, the documentary explores the teens’ deep commitment to gun reform, their support for each other, and the ongoing toll taken by their experiences.
Despite its topic, Us Kids doesn’t have a lot of violent content and thankfully has no footage of the actual school shooting. It does contain over three dozen profanities, mostly spoken by stressed or frustrated teens. And given the level of their trauma, the swearing isn’t a surprise. The teens freely admit that they’re psychologically scarred by the shooting. They talk about their sense of survivors’ guilt and their depression and anxiety. Sam Fuentes is so terrified of being shot that she throws up while speaking at the March for our Lives protest and later at an awards dinner. Cameron Kasky talks about reaching his breaking point after hearing story after story of gun violence. And David Hogg reveals that “The capacity for that sadness, that hole of sadness has gotten deeper in how far it can go. And honestly, I don’t know if it has a bottom.”
It’s a tribute to these young people that this documentary doesn’t induce depression in audiences. To the contrary, the dedication and kindness of these kids is heartwarming. They’re determined to spread their message and to communicate respectfully with those who disagree with them. It’s a hopeful sign for the future of American democracy that young people are willing to devote their time and energy to making change within the system. Even viewers who disagree with their beliefs on gun control will appreciate their commitment to peaceful change. Anyone interested in the future of American politics should watch this film. As Cameron Kasky says, “We are smart and we are woke and we are awesome. So let’s create a new generation of politicians who are smart and woke and awesome.” These kids have time on their side and just might achieve their goals. It’s a good idea to understand what those are.Directed by Kim A. Snyder. Starring Emma González, David Hogg, and Samantha Fuentes. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release October 1, 2020. Updated September 24, 2020
Rating & Content Info
Why is Us Kids rated PG? Us Kids is rated PG by the MPAA
Violence: There are frequent references to school shootings and other incidents of gun violence. People are seen receiving emergency medical care after a shooting. Teenagers receive death threats. There is mention of a protester with a handgun going through a hotel where teenagers are staying. Two people go to a wrecking room and use tools to destroy things.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: There are just over three dozen profanities in the film including 21 sexual expletives, approximately a dozen scatological curses, and a couple of anatomical words and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A young woman is repeatedly seen smoking cigarettes and vaping.
Page last updated September 24, 2020
Us Kids Parents' Guide
For more information about the gun control advocacy groups related to the Parkland shooting, check out these links:
Gun control measures are steadily resisted by the National Rifle Association. What makes the NRA influential? Is it possible to have gun control measures adopted in the face of opposition from gun rights advocates? The USA’s debate over gun control is distinct amongst other developed nations. Do you think gun control legislation is necessary? Why or why not? If yes, what kind of gun control do you think would be effective? For arguments about gun control, statistics about gun crime in the US, gun control efforts, and global comparisons, try these links:
The Guardian: Why is the National Rifle Association So Powerful?
The New York Times: The True Source of the NRA’s Clout: Mobilization, Not Donations
ProCon.Org: Gun Control
BBC News: America’s gun culture in charts
Council on Foreign Relations: US Gun Policy: Global Comparisons
Although school shootings occur in other countries, routine events are unique to the United States. Why do you think this is the case? What do you think should be done to keep kids safe at school?
Security.org. A Timeline of School Shootings Since Columbine
The New York Times: What Explains US Mass Shootings?
Infoplease: Timeline of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings
Loved this movie? Try these books…
New York Times author Dave Cullen tells the story of Parkland survivors and their political activism in Parkland: Birth of a Movement. Siblings David and Lauren Hogg share their experience of the school shooting and subsequent activism in #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line. Student reporters at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School write about their fellow students in We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists.
Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories, edited by Sarah Lerner, contains poems, letters, accounts, journal entries, drawings, from the teen survivors of the shooting. More first person accounts from school shootings are found in Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman’s If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings.
Andrew Pollack’s daughter, Meadow, died in the Stoneman Douglas massacre. Working with writer Max Eden, Pollack has written Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies that Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students. For a look at school shootings nationwide, you can read Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine S Newman, Sybelle Fox, and Wendy Roth.
Related home video titles:
Parkland Rising is another movie about student activists from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
It’s possible for dedicated people to change the world by working within the system. A young lawyer with personal experience of sexual discrimination goes to court to overturn laws that protect the practice. This biopic of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is told in On the Basis of Sex. Women battle for the right to vote in Suffragette, which is set in the turbulent years of pre-war England.
Outraged by partisan electoral maps in her home state, a young woman soon finds herself campaigning for a ballot initiative to end gerrymandering in Slay the Dragon. People fight for the rights of their fellow citizens to cast their ballots in All In: The Fight for Democracy and Suppressed: The Fight to Vote.