Brothers

  • Review Date: December 1, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009

Common Sense Media says

Well-acted war drama is too intense for kids.
  • Review Date: December 1, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the devastating effects that war has on Sam and his family, his family remains supportive and loving. The movie explores how war and violence change soldiers and their ability to return to their lives as fathers and husbands.

Positive role models

Grace, Sam, and Tommy are all realistically flawed characters. Sam commits an unthinkable act in a life-and-death situation, but he does so because he'd die otherwise and wants to return to his family. Grace and Tommy, in a moment of grief, reconnect by kissing, but they realize their error and focus on Sam when he returns. On the definite plus side, all of the characters are devoted to their family.

Violence

Quite a bit of violence, especially in the war scenes thattake place in Afghanistan. A helicopter crashes; two American soldiersare taken hostage, held starving and captive, andthen tortured. A man is shot in the head; a man is forced to killanother man or be killed himself; many men are shot at and killed, etc. In a moment of fury, a character destroys his kitchen and scares hisfamily. A man points a gun at himself and looks like he's about tocommit suicide.

Sex

A married couple kisses passionately and is shown in bed after having had sex. They exchange a few more kisses and embraces. A widow kisses her brother-in-law once. A man discusses whether his brother "f--ked" his wife, and a young girl lies that her mother and uncle "have sex all the time."

Language

Frequent strong language: many uses of the words "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "damn," "hell," "a--hole," "goddamn," "ass," "oh my God," "dick," and more.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Tommy gets drunk on a several occasions, and his father is shown drinking liquor a few times. Tommy smokes cigarettes; in one scene, he and Grace share a joint.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature drama (which stars Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, and Jake Gyllenhaal) about how the horrors of war affect both a soldier and his grieving family has several disturbing scenes of war, torture, and even domestic disputes -- making it far too intense for tweens and even younger teens. The war sequences involve atrocities, near-suicide, and two startling killings that are chillingly realistic; strong language includes frequent use of words like "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and the like. Sexuality isn't too graphic, but there are a few passionate kisses and one shot of an obviously undressed, quilt-covered couple in bed.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on the award-winning Danish film Brodre, BROTHERS is a family saga starring Tobey Maguire as U.S. Marine captain Sam Cahill and Jake Gyllenhaal as his younger brother, Tommy, who has just gotten out of prison. Sam is deployed to Afghanistan, where his combat team's helicopter crashes in enemy territory. He and a private survive, only to be captured and tortured for months. Since the Marines don't know there were any survivors, Sam's wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), is notified that she's now a widow -- and that her two young girls are without a father. Tommy begins to spend a lot of time with Grace and her girls; one night, he and Grace share a grief- and alcohol-fueled kiss. Meanwhile, Sam is forced to commit an unthinkable act of cruelty before he's eventually rescued by American soldiers. But the agony waiting back home may even be worse.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Jim Sheridan is no stranger to intense family dramas -- the Irish filmmaker (In the Name of the Father, In America) seems like a natural choice to adapt Susanne Bier's affecting Brodre. At first, the three leads (especially Portman) all seem too much younger than their Danish counterparts, but with some obvious visual clues that Portman and Maguire's characters were high-school sweethearts, the characterizations start clicking into place, and each actor rises to the challenge. Portman is luminous as a grief-stricken young "widow," and Gyllenhaal is surprisingly believable as the edgier bad-boy brother trying to make amends. But it's Maguire who has to anchor the emotional intensity, capturing Sam's months of torture and then his return to civilization mostly with bulging eyes, set jaw, and an acidly dropped curse word.

To Americanize Bier's masterful original, screenwriter David Benioff makes Sam and Tommy's father (Sam Shepard) a Vietnam vet, lending even more credibility to the good-son/bad-son dynamic between the brothers. Portman's almost distracting loveliness is also taken into consideration, as it becomes the subject of small talk among Tommy's friends. There's more humor in this version as well, especially in a key scene in which Tommy and Grace bond over a joint and a U2 song. Overall, Sheridan's remake is beautifully acted and, unfortunately, quite timely. But everyone who sees it should, also watch Bier's subtle, harrowing original.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how war (both the Vietnam war and the war in Afghanistan) affects the Cahills. Did Sam really have a choice in what he did? The movie doesn't judge him, but what do you think?

  • How is grief portrayed in the movie?

  • Discuss how both brothers deal with their actions. How do their decisions and approaches differ?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 4, 2009
DVD release date:March 23, 2010
Cast:Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire
Director:Jim Sheridan
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Drama
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some disturbing violent content

This review of Brothers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byparent24242424 December 19, 2009
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Good for teens, not for tweens and under

What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 12 year old Written byKaty500 January 1, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Love it!!!!

Great movie for teens and adults. Little kissing but that happens in all movies I see. There are some scary parts that make you jump out of your seat.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byMoviefan101 December 21, 2009
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

A great war drama that shows what really happens in thw war of afganistan!!!! if you have family in the military watch this movie!!!!!

Brothers is is a well acted war acted drama about Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire)gets deployed in the war in Afganistan. Upon deployment his black hawk helicopter crashes and he is presumed dead. You will have to watch this movie to learn more. But overall this is a well a well acted war drama

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