This month we had our first teen curated edition. Our brave trailblazer, Kia, presented the Dystopias: Near and Far edition. Kia had the opportunity to develop his own theme, select a movie menu with 3 titles, and engage his fellow teens in the post movie discussion. As a Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) alum, Teen Advisory Council (TAC) alum, and Pizza and a Movie Regular, Kia is no stranger to ArtsConnection Teen Programs and was up for the challenge Here is his experience as a teen host, the play-by play of the night, and his thoughts on the winning movie.

In the newest edition of PaaM, Dystopias: Near and Far, we looked at 3 very different versions of the future in which the survival of the human race is uncertain.

The Movie Choices…

It was a close vote but in the end the winner was… 12 Monkeys!

Q: How would you describe the winning movie?

Kia: [It’s] a weird and loopy sci-fi movie where James Cole (Bruce Willis) travels back in time to collect a pure sample of a virus that will wipe out most of humanity in 1996. It’s the kind of movie you have to see at least a few times before you start to get it. In addition to getting the timeline in the movie correct, you have to consider that the movie’s protagonist might actually be crazy and imagining the whole thing! Or maybe not. The delight is in watching him struggle to find the answer he’s looking for and all the weird situations he encounters along the way. What’s interesting is that Philadelphia, where most of the action takes place, is depicted as being decrepit and dangerous in the 1990’s, a lot like the world in 2035, in which people are forced to live underground. A lot of money was spent getting the right tone across in the grimy world of the future, but not to make it seem too improbable. Even if it doesn’t all make sense to you at the end, there are many reasons why this is a great film to watch over and over again. The subtle performance by Bruce Willis, who balances a tough outer shell with a tender, suppressed vulnerability makes him as complex a character as the movie itself, and one of the many enigmas that it leaves you pondering after it’s over.

Q: What was the group’s reaction to the movie?

Kia: After the film, we had a nice discussion up front about the film’s many ambiguities and about the paradox of time travel, whether or not going back to the past will change the events of the future. The movie seems to argue that it doesn’t, Cole is simply trying to gather information for scientists to use in the future and eventually arrive at a cure for the virus. If anything, what he does in the past only sets up for what happens in the future. The film can also be considered a love story, but a twisted and ultimately doomed one. With all these conflicting elements going for it, the film is anything but conventional, but that’s what makes it so awesome.


FINAL RATING: 5 out of 8 slices

12 monkeys-rated

Here’s what the teen audience had to say…

Every PaaM night, we ask our teens to give us their honest reviews of the winning movie. We then select four voices that capture the range of opinions and critiques. Read what Ayelet (The PaaM Drop In), Najah (The Newbie), Madison (Reigning PaaM Reviewer), and Alen (TAC Star) thought about the frantic sci-fi flick.

Choose three words to describe this movie.


Najah: SURREAL, SAGACIOUS, UNPREDICTABLE (despite all the hints throughout the movie)



What was your favorite scene? Bonus: Why? SPOILER ALERT!

Ayelet: I liked the scene where James tries to explain his situation, seeing someone so desperate to be understood was perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the movie.

Najah: When the psychiatrist realized exactly where she knew Cole from, it was frustrating for the audience to have all this dramatic irony that she is present in Cole’s dreams but unaware if it. It became like a sigh of relief when she had that epiphany.

Madison: My favorite scene was the climax of the movie because it brought James Cole’s story full circle and answered a lot of questions Cole had about his mental state.

Alen: When the animals were released into the city.

Would you recommend this to a friend? Why or why not?

Ayelet: I don’t think I would recommend this movie to a friend because I don’t think that friend would ever speak to me again ☺ It is a pretty odd movie, and I believe it is one that has to be discovered, not seen based upon a recommendation.

Najah: No because there were various holes in the plot- there needed to be a better augmentation of the love between James Cole and the psychiatrist and the intricacies of the pathogen.

Madison: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend who can really pay attention to every detail of the dialogue and images in the story and connect them back around to the other themes of the movie.

Alen: No, I spent an hour and a half watching a man walk into his own death.


Join us for the next FREE Pizza and a Movie!




   How to RSVP for Pizza and a Movie Night:

Seating is limited, so you must lay claim to your seat & slice by selecting “Free Ticket- RSVP HERE” on the Pizza and a Movie event page at Fill in your information and you will receive a reminder email the day before the event. Please let us know exactly how many people you’ll be bringing. If you have any questions, feel free to email Briana, Teen Programs Assistant at

 PLEASE NOTE: This is a TEENS ONLY event.