A Long Way Off

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
A Long Way Off Movie Poster Image
Faith-based family drama uses excess to teach lessons.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Flaunting money can attract the wrong kind of people; it's important to leave home to figure out what you want in life, even if it means failing; families should allow their members to discover their own identities; mistakes should be forgiven.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Family patriarch is forgiving and patient; son is selfish but eventually works to mend relationships; coffee shop barista is a caring person who wants to help her new friend stay on the right path.

Violence

A man is punched and slapped and later shown with a red, scraped-up face. He attempts to buy a gun but has no money and is refused.

Sex

Lots of flirting and innuendo and a few scenes of kissing. Many scenes of a man sitting with multiple women in partying scenarios, drunk and leaning on each other a lot and flirting, with suggestive dancing or leaning or pulling and cutaways that imply intercourse has happened.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple scenes of heavy drinking in bars or at parties, often straight from the bottle, with some montages of multiple shots taken and lots of stumbling and drunken debauchery. Reference to a man having thrown up in a dishwasher; references to hangovers and being hungover; lots of scenes of drinks served in everyday environments; casual smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Long Way Off depicts a young man's debauched existence in the city after leaving his family farm as a retelling of the Prodigal Son parable. There's heavy drinking, some casual smoking, heavy innuendo, flirting and implied sex, and some light violence when a man is beaten up. It's a clearly faith-based, cautionary tale about excess, straying from one's family, and redemption, so though the message is morally centered, the majority of the film concerns itself with the low points. Best for older kids and families looking for faith-driven messages.

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What's the story?

Jake (Jason Burkey) is bored with life on his family's farm, so he asks his father for his inheritance early so he can make a life for himself. Now in the city with a good income and a bright future in investing, Jake begins to dabble in luxury that his money affords, and he finds himself getting deeper and deeper in with the wrong people, including a high roller, Frank (Robert Davi), he can't seem to shake.

Is it any good?

For families of faith, the film's messages will resonate loud and clear without the slightest bit of ambiguity. From the opening scenes of simple farm life and stoic men and religious symbolism to the fast-paced city full of opportunities to blow money, drink heavily, and indulge in sin, it's obvious A LONG WAY OFF has an agenda: to retell the Prodigal Son parable for modern times. But the lack of subtlety, the after-school-special-with-a-budget vibe, and the strong agenda overdo what are some probably decent messages about staying in touch with your parents, respecting Dad, and not blowing your inheritance without a tad more research. Secular families will not find as much to hook into here, because otherwise the main character's missteps and consequences appear almost comically exaggerated for a predictable end. There's a lot of heavy drinking, bar scenes, and partying, so it's best for older kids who can contextualize the reason for the relentless focus on excess on the inevitable road to redemption.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jake's father's decision to give him his inheritance early. Do you agree with it? Why, or why not? Why would his father do that?

  • What are some good reasons Jake should have stayed at the family farm? What are some good reasons for leaving? Do you think children are obligated to stay near their families? Why, or why not?

  • What does the film seem to say about the desire for money or wealth or a fast-paced life as compared to a simple life on the farm? Are these stereotypes or accurate depictions? Why, or why not?

Movie details

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