A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's not over until it's over, and just because you're down doesn't mean you're out. Perseverance is the secret to making it through a challenging journey. Greta's story demonstrates the importance of following your own dreams, rather than riding sidecar for someone else's. Themes include forgiveness and artistic integrity.
Positive Role Models
Greta expresses herself through her music and doesn't bend too far in her quest to be famous. Dan clearly loves his family, despite the demons he battles daily, including his drinking.
Violence & Scariness
A man punches another; one character responds very loudly and vociferously to getting fired, causing a scene at the office. A woman slaps a man, and he throws his glass into a sink.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing between couples. There's talk of a man sleeping with a woman who's not his girlfriend, though nothing is seen. Longing stares. There's also some talk of a woman cheating on her husband, hurting her entire family. A teenager tells her dad she has no money left from her allowance because she spent it on condoms.
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Frequent (but not constant) strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bullsh-t."
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Products & Purchases
Some characters drink Pepsi and Stella Artois, and many use Apple products, which are very present throughout the movie.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man is constantly inebriated. He drinks in a car, from a flask, even while driving, and once asks his teenage daughter for money to pay for his beer. He's aware that he has a problem. He also smokes an e-cigar. Other characters are shown taking a quick drag on cigarettes. Social drinking among friends, usually shots or hard liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Begin Again is an affecting quasi-musical from the director/writer of Once about how music can be a salve to wounded personalities. The central character, Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a music exec who's clearly battling an alcohol problem, and his transformation is the centerpiece of the movie (alongside the metamorphosis of a young woman who changes from being known as the girlfriend of her famous boyfriend into a musical talent in her own right). Dan is shown drinking, sometimes while driving, and appears rudderless after being fired. The movie's themes -- forgiveness, artistic integrity, infidelity -- may be somewhat heavy for tweens and younger, and there's lots of strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k"), but teens will love the music and spotting artists they've come to know, including Adam Levine and Cee-Lo. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The movie's fun, though it's a mite too familiar and feels like a re-tread of Once. Filmmaker John Carney loves to bring together characters at the nexus of loss and possibility, which he did brilliantly with that music-heavy debut. In Begin Again, he recaptures some -- but not all -- of the same magic by telling a similar story about another pair who find each other at just the moment when their lives are at their most chaotic and they're in sore need of inspiration and human connection. First, what works: Ruffalo is the emotional anchor of the film, grounding Dan in palpable vulnerability. His scenes are moving, especially when they include Steinfeld as a daughter aching for a father who will be present. And the rest of the cast -- even Levine, who's moonlighting here from his gig with Maroon 5 -- mostly keeps up with Ruffalo and Steinfeld.
For a movie in which the music is so crucial, there aren't too many songs that will really stay with the audience (except perhaps "Lost Stars," which is a stand-out); they get the job done, but they don't transport you. Knightley has a pretty voice, but it lacks the depth and heft of a seasoned musician. (No wonder the energy shifts when Levine takes the stage, showing how a performance can electrify.) Still, Begin Again captures the thrill of finding out that you've been given a second chance ... alongside the bittersweet pain of meeting someone who touches your soul but may just be passing through.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.