"Marred by a Complicated Plot and Objectionable Content"


What You Need To Know:

ASTEROID CITY is a play within a movie. The playwright introduces the actors. In the play, families arrive in Asteroid City for the junior Stargazer competition. Augie brings his four children to the town, where he tells them their mother has died. Each child deals with grief in a different way and asks if there’s an afterlife. During the ceremony for awarding $5000 to the best invention, an alien comes down, grabs the asteroid decoration at the center of the presentation and leaves. The government quarantines the families to prevent information about the alien getting out. Will Augie and his children come to terms with their grief? Will the alien return?

ASTEROID CITY has beautiful art direction, but the script is convoluted. The characters discuss grief and question if there’s an afterlife. Some believe in God, some don’t, and some make jokes about being witches. ASTEROID CITY has scenes of praying to God and forgiveness, but it leaves the meaning of life up in the air. The movie is marred by an excessive scene of nudity, a homosexual kiss and implied extra-marital affairs.


(PaPa, CC, BB, H, OO, FR, HoHo, L, S, NNN, A):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Mixed pagan worldview with mentions of God and Heaven, mentions of characters being Episcopal, multiple prayers saying thank you to God, a crucifix is drawn and mentioned, many references to characters forgiving one another, people wonder whether or not there’s an afterlife, and the movie ends with a burial scene that has a prayer to God, with many comments about the meaning of life and trying to grapple with grief, but one character says he ultimately doesn’t believe in God, three young girls pretend to do spells trying to bring their mother back to life but nothing happens, there’s a prayer/song to an alien and a drawn Buddhist yin yang symbol, and a man sexually kisses another man

Foul Language:
Two obscenities, one profanity

No violence, but there are discussions about death and whether there’s an afterlife

A man sexually kisses another man, and there’s implied sex outside of marriage

Full frontal female nudity in one scene

Alcohol Use:
Some alcohol use

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
One character often smokes a pipe, but there are no drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
An nuclear bomb test occurs in the distance.

More Detail:

ASTEROID CITY is a small town in Nevada where families arrive for the junior Stargazer competition but are quarantined when an alien suddenly makes an appearance and, just as suddenly, disappears. ASTEROID CITY deals with the topic of grief, and whether or not there’s an afterlife, but it’s filmed as a play within a movie, so the plot gets a bit convoluted, and the movie’s references to God, Heaven, prayer, and forgiveness are marred by references to atheism and witchcraft plus an excessive scene of nudity, a homosexual kiss and implied extra-marital affairs.

ASTEROID CITY is a play within a movie. So, the movie starts out with Bryan Cranston setting the scene of his play and mentioning all the actors in the movie. Then, the movie goes into the play.

In the play, Augie Steenbeck is driving his family to a junior Stargazer competition, where his teenage son, Woodrow is competing. When he arrives, his car breaks down, and he and his three young daughters and Woodrow have to check in to the motel. The rest of the Stargazers show up, including a famous actress named Midge with her daughter, Dinah.

When the time comes to see who’s won what in the Junior Stargazer competition, all the families gather round to see. Each teenager has created an invention that will help with the future. When it is time to give out awards, each Junior Stargazer receives and award, and the large check of $5000 is about to be awarded. Just then, an alien comes down and takes an asteroid that is in the middle of the presentation. Everyone sees the alien, but the government is now worried what will be reported and decides to quarantine the families.

Augie has to reveal to his children that his wife, their mother, has passed away. Throughout their time in Asteroid City, Augie, Woodrow, and the girls think about the concept of death and grief, going back and forth on the question of whether Heaven exists. Augie finds some solace in the famous Midge, who talks to him across the way.

Will Augie and his family be able to come to terms with their grief? Will the alien return to Asteroid City?

ASTEROID CITY is a very quirky Wes Anderson movie that he wrote, directed and produced. As those familiar with Anderson’s movies know, he has a very distinct style and look to each of his movies. This includes everything from the costumes, to the sets, to the cinematography, to the color grading that make the movie look in a style that Wes Anderson has done previously.

Since ASTEROID CITY is a play within a movie, the plot gets a bit convoluted because the entire movie goes back and forth from the explanation of the play to the play, fluctuating between black and white and color images. This seems like an extra layer that didn’t need to be added and that makes the movie more convoluted. Hollywood insiders may enjoy this, but outside audiences may question the need for the additional commentary of the play within a movie.

ASTEROID CITY has a mixed worldview where the characters are grappling with grief and the afterlife. Many times the movie shows characters praying to God. Though this is the case, some characters say they are atheist, some say they are Christian, and some characters make jokes about being witches. So, it’s almost as if Writer/Director Wes Anderson is having an existential questioning of the meaning of life and afterlife and displaying this in his movie. ASTEROID CITY doesn’t come to a conclusion on whether or not there’s an afterlife, but it does end on a prayer to God at a funeral.

However, in addition to its mixture of Non-Christian content, the movie is also marred by an excessive scene of nudity, a homosexual kiss and implied extra-marital affairs. So, MOVIEGUIDE® finds ASTEROID CITY ultimately unacceptable.