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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Every life has value, and this shouldn't be defined by the job you have, the money you earn, or the mistakes you may have made. People should also be treated with dignity and respect regardless of these aspects. Wanting or needing money isn't equivalent to being greedy.
Positive Role Models
Some lawyers, politicians, and corporate lobbyists are depicted as calculating and potentially untrustworthy. Legal professionals trying to stay objective learn to let down their professional guards and show human compassion. The community organizer who has lost his wife tries to convince the fund managers to treat each person individually rather than working through a formula. Families of victims withstand the grieving process, which can include sadness but also anger. Some have to learn to forgive the mistakes their loved ones made in life. People express distrust of the government.
There is racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in the main cast, including among both the victim groups and the staff at the law firm, but not among political leaders. An angry man shouts about the "Jew lawyer" running the fund. A group of Spanish-speaking families are portrayed as very humble, and it's mentioned through an interpreter that their immigration status won't affect their access to the fund. Domestic partners weren't recognized by some state laws in the early 2000s, and one gay man isn't acknowledged by his deceased partner's seemingly anti-gay parents.
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Violence & Scariness
Footage of the aftermath of 9/11 is shown, including the towers smoking, one tower falling, people running away covered in ash, and the ruins. Characters recount how they lost their loved ones or barely escaped with their own lives that day, in emotional detail. A man has scars on his face from 9/11. A scene shows a funeral for a firefighter with his wife, kids, and brother there. Walls of "missing person" signs in New York are shown. A young lawyer who was supposed to start a job in the Twin Towers the week after 9/11 suffers claustrophobia and fear of heights as a result. A woman says she lost a premature baby.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
It's revealed that a loving father and "family man" had an affair and a secret second family. An older couple refuses to admit their son was gay, accusing his lover of ulterior motives.
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"F--k," "f--king," "bull--.t," "goddamn," "hell," "God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man smokes a cigarette. People drink alcohol at lunch at a restaurant. There's talk of having a drink, getting drunk in celebration, and a man out "drinking with the boys."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Worth takes on some heavy themes about the value of life and the process of grieving the unexpected or violent death of a loved one. Archive news footage of the September 11 terrorist attacks is shown, including a tower on fire, one tower falling, people covered in ash, walls of "missing persons" posters, and so on. Characters tell their stories, in detail and often tearfully, of their loved ones' last days or final calls to them from inside the towers or the airplanes. High-paid lawyers, politicians, and lobbyists seem to be in cahoots, seeking mutually-beneficial outcomes. Characters show, and in some cases learn, compassion for individuals affected by 9/11. There is racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in the main cast. An angry man shouts about the "Jew lawyer" running the fund. High-paid lawyers are seeking maximum compensation on behalf of their wealthy clients, while several characters from more modest backgrounds are depicted as generous and appreciative. Domestic partners weren't recognized by some state laws in the early 2000s. Language includes "f--k," "f--king," "bulls--t," "goddamn," and "hell." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This complex and sensitive portrayal of the quagmire around a government fund to compensate victims of 9/11 is bolstered by excellent casting and a measured pace. Like those tasked with disbursing the fund, Worth asks the impossible question of what an individual life is worth. But, as fund "Special Master" Ken Feinberg tells his law class at Georgetown, it's a legal question, not a philosophical one. That's where Keaton's Feinberg goes wrong -- in trying to treat the "claimants" (family members who lost loved ones in 9/11) -- objectively, as numbers in a formula. Keaton does a stellar job showing Feinberg evolve from overly-confident DC insider to compassionate, humbled crusader, and he's surrounded by an excellent supporting cast who also go through their own individual transformations over the course of the film. This is in addition to the casting of a dozen or so wholly credible "claimants" who give at turns tearful, at turns angry, monologues almost directly to the camera about the loved ones they've lost.
In an interesting choice, the faces of a couple of characters who go on to die in 9/11 are purposefully not shown, underscoring that the focus here is on the aftermath. This true story-inspired tale isn't an easy one to tell or to relive. It could even prove too difficult to watch for some families of 9/11 victims. Director Sara Colangelo (The Kindergarten Teacher) frequently plays scenes off each other, a technique at times overly obvious but still effective. For example, in one matched pair, Keaton's character is fending off lawyerly "wolves" seeking more money for their wealthy clients while his partner is in a room with a group of politely appreciative Spanish-speaking families of victims. The film recreates the emotion of those days, the way it felt the whole world was glued, speechless, to their television sets. Still, the film's power lies not in graphic images, though there are a few. Rather, the quiet force of Worth lies in its rendering of the suffering of every single person involved, except notably some politicians and DC power brokers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.