Story

A New York photographer, Nev Schulman, receives a painting of one of his photos from an eight-year-old artist named Abby. His brother Ariel and filmmaker friend Henry decide to make a movie about Abby, a child prodigy who lives in Michigan with her family.

This starts an online friendship between Abby and Nev, which extends to the rest of Abby’s family. The relationship particularly involves Abby’s mother Angela and sister Megan, with whom Nev begins an online and phone relationship. After eight months, Nev accidentally discovers that the song that Megan is supposed to have written and recorded was actually downloaded from another musician’s YouTube site. Nev then begins a journey that leads him to discover that Abby’s family are not what they seem.

Themes

The risks of befriending people online; living with family members with a disability

Violence

This movie contains some violence. For example, one of Angela’s disabled children slaps himself repeatedly.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • Nev and his friends drive into a farm at night and walk around in the dark, looking through windows. This scene is quite tense.
  • Two of Angela’s children are severely disabled. One is shown in a wheelchair having drugs administered with syringes.

From 8-13

Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13

Younger children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

This movie contains some sexual references. For example:

  • Characters talk about chickens ovulating and producing eggs.
  • Nev and Megan send each other sexually oriented Facebook and phone text messages.
  • Nev and his brother discuss Nev ‘making out’ with Megan and ‘taking her virginity’.
  • Nev reads out a sexually explicit text message between him and Megan.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • A photoshopped image of Nev and Megan shows Megan naked from the waist up. Megan has her back to the camera so we only see her naked back.
  • Nev walks around in his underpants.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Facebook.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Catfish is a documentary movie best suited to older teenagers and adults. The main messages from this movie are that what people say about themselves in their online profiles and communications might not always be true.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of telling the truth and how lying can get you into trouble.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as being careful about:

  • who you make friends with online, what you reveal about yourself, and how involved you get with people
  • face-to-face meetings with people you have met online – they might not always be a good idea.