At Any Price

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
At Any Price Movie Poster Image
Indie drama's messages undercut by weak story, racy content.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie deals with serious social, political, and economic issues related to farming and is sympathetic to corn farmers who must use genetically modified seeds. Characters engage in backhanded behavior to make money but eventually learn to do the right thing. Some problematic behavior, however, goes unpunished.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a fast-talking, phony salesman type who takes part in shady and illegal activities. He tries to correct some of his bad behavior -- but not all of it, and only when it suits him. His son is a petulant, arrogant brat who, likewise, does something terrible and suffers no consequences for it.

Violence

Two characters fight in more than one instance. During one fight, one combatant bashes the other in the head with a hammer, resulting in his death. There's a race and a car crash. A gun is introduced early in the movie but is only used to shatter the front window of a shop. Characters argue frequently.

Sex

In one scene, a character looks at a porn magazine; viewers see photos of naked breasts and a photo of a woman holding an erect penis. Henry is cheating on his wife with an old high school girlfriend. This same woman later seduces Dean, sleeping with both men during the course of the movie. Dean also has a seduction/foreplay scene with his own girlfriend. None of these three scenes show any nudity (the characters are more or less fully clothed).

Language

"F--k" is used about a dozen times. "S--t" is also used a few times, and "bitch," "goddamn," "for God's sakes," "p---y," "a--hole," and "whore" are heard once each.

Consumerism

Butterfinger candy bars are shown and mentioned by name in a couple of shots.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Both Henry and Dean, as well as their mutual lover, are shown drinking beer, vodka, and whisky at various times. They're shown a little tipsy/stumbling drunk, but with no real lasting effects.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that At Any Price -- an indie drama about a family of corn farmers in Illinois -- raises some serious social, political, and economic issues but loses traction due to a weak story and characters who aren't exactly admirable. Sexual content is a big issue, as the two main characters -- a father and son -- have sex with the same woman (the father is cheating on his wife with her, and the son is cheating on his girlfriend with her). The sex scenes don't actually have any nudity, but a graphic porn magazine is shown for a few seconds in another scene. Language is fairly strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as other words. There are a couple of violent fights, one of which results in a death by hammer blow. A gun is fired, but only at a store window. All the main characters drink alcohol from time to time, with no lasting effects.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove August 27, 2013

Somewhat Enjoyable.

Pretty good film! 3.5 stars if I could. The story was interesting and held my attention. I watched this on a whim without really knowing much about it. If you l... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 8, 2015

Okay...

There were some sexual scenes and some moaning but that was it... There was a lot of F*cks, and other curse words, but the rest of the movie was fine, except th... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Whipple family has been in the corn business for generations. Henry (Dennis Quaid) tries to run his farm with all the modern conveniences, as well as making money by selling genetically manufactured seeds for a big corporation. Problems arise when Henry's oldest son refuses to come home from his globetrotting adventures and his arrogant, petulant younger son, Dean (Zac Efron), only wants to race cars. Meanwhile, Henry is under investigation for re-using seeds and is also losing business to a competitor (Clancy Brown). Oddly, Henry's illicit lover (Heather Graham) decides to seduce Dean. Things get even worse when Dean gets into a fight, with disastrous results. Can the Whipple family save the farm and get things back on track again?

Is it any good?

Writer/director Ramin Bahrani made three acclaimed, character-based independent movies (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and the lovely Goodbye Solo); it's baffling that this one’s so shallow and clumsy. It seems to want to say something about the plight of corn farmers in America today, and it imparts its information clearly -- but apparently at the expense of everything else.

The actors seem to have been asked to give very clipped, elevated performances, especially Quaid, whose character is a smarmy salesman. Efron, on the other hand, responds to every situation with his usual blank, dead-eyed stare. Several plot threads, especially one about racing cars, seem clumsily dropped, and a potentially interesting female teen character is likewise abandoned. Aside from its potential educational value around farming, At Any Price is just a mystifying waste of time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the farming-related issues that At Any Price raises. According to the movie, what's better about modern farming, and what's worse? Can/should it be changed?

  • How do you feel about Henry and Dean after they sleep with the same woman? Why?

  • What's your impression of the characters at the end of the movie? What lessons have they learned? What lessons have they not learned? Are any of them role models?

Movie details

For kids who love drama

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