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Bad Seeds

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Bad Seeds Movie Poster Image
Endearing redemption tale has language and violence.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 100 minutes

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

Positive Messages

It's not the smartest people who win -- it's the most resourceful ones. Thinking first can avoid a lot of fighting. Communication is the most important thing. Some kids aren't really troubled; they just need more attention. It's possible for two disagreeing people to both be right. You can run but you'll always end up where you're supposed to be. Good people can do bad things. There's no such thing as a bad seed, only bad farmers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A kind woman takes in an orphaned child then showers him with love for decades to come. The child is loyal and protective. Although they've learned to survive by doing dishonest things, the movie suggests they both deeply believe in generosity and helpfulness to others.  

Violence

Soldiers enter a peaceful village and shoot men, women, and children. A man makes jokes about racism and slavery to break down the resistance of a class of teenagers. Two youths from rival parts of town have to be separated as they begin to fight. A man is beaten bloody but survives. Sexual abuse of children is discussed. A child hangs himself.

Sex

It's suggested that a youth might be gay because he's wearing a pink shirt. A boy makes a joke about a girl "blowing" someone, and she protests at the insult. A boy tries to kiss a girl but she doesn't notice.

 

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "screw," "crap," "piss," "blow," "suck," and "bastard."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A youth is blackmailed into dealing drugs. An adult smokes cigarettes.

 

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?

Movie details

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