A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know the material might be very upsetting for kids, or for anyone who has relatives with mental illness or who knows very little about it. There are some strong scenes of family tension and peril, including a child in jeopardy, scuffles, and potential domestic abuse. There are graphic scenes of shock therapy and self-destructive behavior. A character is in peril involving shooting. There is also some crude language with sexual references.
What's the story?
A man sees what no one else can, and we call him a genius. A man sees what no one else does, and we call him crazy. This Academy Award-winner for Best Picture is about a man who was both. It's the true story of genius John Forbes Nash, Jr., who revolutionized mathematics and struggled with mentally illness. More than 40 years later, as he edged back into sanity, his contribution was recognized by academics in Sweden. They awarded him the Nobel Prize.
Is it any good?
This is an extraordinary story, and it has been made into an extraordinary movie. Crowe is, as always, simply magnificent in a role that would provide irresistible temptation for showboating for most actors. There are superb performances by everyone in the cast, including Connelly (an Oscar-winner for Best Supporting Actress), Paul Bettany, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Judd Hirsch, and a dozen others.
What is really special here is the way that screenwriter Akiva Goldman and director Ron Howard have found a way to present both Nash's genius and his mental illness in such compelling, cinematic, and accessible terms. Both in essence become characters in the story as we go inside his head and wonder with Nash what to believe. This is what makes the movie more than a disease-of-the-week special with color-by- numbers "heartwarming" moments of triumph over adversity. This is what makes the movie itself a true work of art.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mental illness, about how people with mental illness need to be treated, and about what is different now in the way we treat the mentally ill from the days depicted in the movie. Families who want to know more should check the Web site for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
- In theaters: December 21, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2003
- Cast: Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 135 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense thematic material, sexual content and a scene of violence.
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