At Any Price

  • Review Date: April 24, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Indie drama's messages undercut by weak story, racy content.
  • Review Date: April 24, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY
 

Writer/director Ramin Bahrani has made three acclaimed, character-based independent movies (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and the lovely Goodbye Solo), so it's baffling that AT ANY PRICE is 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 24, 2013
DVD release date:August 27, 2013
Cast:Dennis Quaid, Kim Dickens, Zac Efron
Director:Ramin Bahrani
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Genre:Drama
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content including a strong graphic image, and for language

This review of At Any Price 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

Our star rating assesses the media's overall 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; OK 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 bywonder dove August 27, 2013
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

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 like movies with a farm/agricultural feel with a troubled son & father relationship added into the mix, then you may enjoy it too. It's basically about a family who owns a farm, growing corn, and competing with other farmers. Henry (Dennis Quaid) is cheating on his wife, he gets himself into trouble when he's caught selling genetically manufactured seeds. If that is not enough for him, his youngest son Dean (Zac Efron) wants nothing to do with the farming business or his father even after Henry offers to give him the farm. Dean prefers racing cars and getting into trouble. But when things go way too far including cheating on his girlfriend and later being dumped by her, Dean finds himself in a scary situation involving a fight with another racer that actually brings him and his father somewhat closer. The story has a lot of drama, Zac Efron was no different in this than any other film he's done with minimal emotion in his acting. His character is very selfish, shallow and arrogant and he never seems to lose the attitude. However, great cast! Language is strong with several f-words followed by more common cursing. Violence has arguing, racing cars and a crash, a fight with pushing and shoving, hitting and a hammer is bashed into a characters head. A gun is used to shoot the front window of a store and something is stolen. Sexual content has nudity in a porn magazine, two couples kiss and embrace when she takes off her top but no nudity, a man cheats on his wife with another woman and sex is implied with moaning at one point, the same woman seduces a younger guy and he straddles her from behind - you see her hand on the wall and hear moaning. There is drinking but not frequent. Certainly not for kids or anyone under 16!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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