Endearing redemption tale has language and violence.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bad Seeds is a French film with English subtitles that looks at social problems -- poverty, prejudice, and other disadvantages -- and tries to see the good in everyone. The film uses humor to make its smart and valuable messages engaging. Flashbacks of a key character's origins show an Arab street kid orphaned by military and political maneuvers and later taken in by a woman who then raises him in Paris. The movie emphasizes kindness, honest communications, and self-analysis as important skills every decent person should master at the same time that it shows how people lie and cling to their prejudices. Its greater message is that outward behaviors often send misleading signals about who people really are and what troubles they suffer. A man is beaten bloody but survives. A youth is forced to deal drugs. Sexual abuse of children is discussed as something that occurs in orphanages as well as in families. A boy makes a joke about a girl "blowing" someone, and she protests at the insult. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "screw," "crap," and "bastard." A child hangs himself.
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What's the Story?
In BAD SEEDS, a small boy's entire family is killed in an unnamed Arab country (possibly Iran) by invading armies. In his youth, Wael (Kheiron) survived by his wits, sometimes as a pickpocket, other times by pretending to be blind and begging. He's taken off the streets by a caring nun and is educated in an orphanage until he moves to Paris. He and his adoptive mother, Monique (Catherine Deneuve), run scams, fleecing gullible passersby until one victim, Victor (Andre Dussollier), recognizes her from long ago and makes them go straight. Victor runs a program for kids in trouble at school. He's in a bind and reluctantly puts Wael in charge of his group of troubled kids. Wael breaks through their insolence and protectiveness, earns their trust, and begins to teach them -- about life, about useful skills, and about their harmful prejudices.
Is It Any Good?
This film offers a smart, funny, endearing, and heartwarming plot, the way Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me did before, with a few uneven, even implausible plot turns. While certain elements don't really add up, the inconsistencies don't detract from Bad Seeds' high entertainment quotient. The teasing and affectionate banter between Wael and Monique feels real and unrehearsed, a tribute to not only to the charm and gifts of actors Deneuve and Kheiron, but also Kheiron's sharp instincts as screenwriter and director. Messages are delivered painlessly and viewers will come away with a sense that people can look beyond themselves and their isolating biases to make the world a slightly-better place.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the idea that people who are basically decent and good can still do seemingly bad things. What do we learn about the home life of a guy who has been kicked out of school for fighting? Do we understand him more clearly and think better of him when we see his situation at home?
What does Bad Seeds say about being right? Is there only one way to be right or can people hold opposing opinions and still both be right? What does that say about the way countries in conflict handle their positions in the world?
What parts of the movie surprised you? Why?
- In theaters: June 5, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2018
- Cast: Kheiron, Catherine Deneuve, Andre Dussollier
- Director: Kheiron
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Communication
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Epic romance-drama is brilliant but too mature for kids.
The Breakfast Club
Classic '80s teen movie has mature themes, profanity.
Lean on Me
Inspirational drama has language, violence, drug references.
Stand and Deliver
Math teacher inspires in powerful fact-based drama.
For kids who love inspiring tales
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