Begin Again

  • Review Date: June 27, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Music-heavy film explores reinvention and forgiveness.
  • Review Date: June 27, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 104 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


Frequent (but not constant) strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bullsh-t."


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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo) is the founder of a record label and a former producer with a drinking problem who finds himself adrift after losing his touch -- and eventually his job -- in BEGIN AGAIN. His teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) hates him, and his estranged wife (Catherine Keener) is tired of being disappointed. Then he walks into a bar and sees a clearly upset Gretta (Keira Knightley) singing onstage, armed with a perfect, soulful melody and lyrics to match. She just got her heart stomped by her longtime musician boyfriend (Adam Levine), who told her that he'd fallen in love with someone else. Dan realizes that Gretta is an undiscovered talent who could provide him a ticket back to success. Together, they bring her music to life, making a demo album on the streets of NYC, fueled by inspiration but not much funding or institutional support, each searching for reinvention and finding more.

Is it any good?


Filmmaker John Carney loves to bring together characters at the nexus of loss and possibility, which he did brilliantly with his music-heavy debut, Once. 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.

But it still feels like a re-tread of Once. It's fun, but it's a mite too familiar. And 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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Begin Again portrays drinking. Dan clearly has a problem with alcohol. How does the movie address it? Are there realistic consequences? Does it prevent him from being a good father? 

  • The film includes lots of music and uses it to explore its themes. How is it similar to and different from other music-heavy movies?

  • Are the main characters role models? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 27, 2014
DVD release date:October 28, 2014
Cast:Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine
Director:John Carney
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Topics:Friendship, Music and sing-along
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Begin Again was written by

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  • 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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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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Teen, 14 years old Written byJimmy brew March 5, 2015

Funny but racy dramedy discovers adulthood

My rating:R for language
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieGuy2570 January 16, 2015

Fun, Inspiring Musical Movie

Begin Again is definitely a very good movie including great performances from Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo and is pretty much ok for everyone despite some minor issues. There is some strong language which is just over 10 uses of F*** and some uses of Sh** as well as minor terms such as damn or hell. There is also one very brief sexual reference but besides that, the movie is absolutely fine. I would recommend it to all who like heartwarming movies and it may even be something you watch with you're family. Overall, a nice movie.
Kid, 12 years old November 17, 2014

Inspirational but lots of language

It is in inspiring because these pople get there life back together. If you like music, you will love this because they sing songs in all these different places. Plus the music is good. The movie includes alot of alcohol and the man is a alcoholic . He also smokes a lot But he gets himself togther in the end. They curse every sentence and refer to some inaproprite stuff. Overall it was a pretty god movie though.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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