Being Flynn

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Being Flynn Movie Poster Image
Uneven, mature drama is too edgy for younger kids.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Amid Being Flynn's heavy themes (homelessness, family estrangement, abandonment, suicide) is the message that redemption is always possible, and forgiveness -- of yourself and others -- will help take you there.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters have both flaws and assets. Nick, especially, is in turmoil. But he's gifted with deep empathy, which helps him on his personal journey. He's kind and forgiving and open to change. He's also blessed with friends who support him at his most difficult times.


Jonathan has a mean streak. He brandishes a bat that he uses as a weapon and airs his prejudices in aggressive ways. He gets in fights -- mostly off-camera -- and the battle scars are sometimes visible. He also witnesses a homeless man beaten up by a group of teens. There's a brief scene in which a dead, bloodied body is displayed in front of a building. Suicide is a theme of the movie.


A couple makes out and winds up in bed (viewers mostly see the initial groping and kissing). Another couple is shown having sex, but there's no graphic nudity. A man's backside is visible while bathing.


Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are shown drinking beer and hard liquor, sometimes to excess. A man sneaks vodka into his orange juice just before he drives a taxi; as the movie progresses, he consumes more and more vodka. Another character smokes pot and graduates to harder drugs, including crack, which he's shown smoking in a stairwell.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Being Flynn is based on Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City and is a complicated, mature story about a father and son reunited under difficult circumstances. Much of the drama's material is weighty, including discussions about, and depictions of, homelessness, family estrangement, abandonment, jail time, and parental suicide, and may be too heavy for younger teens. Expect plenty of swearing (including "f--k," "s--t," and more) and sexual innuendoes, as well as some relatively tame sex scenes (groping, kissing, but no graphic nudity). One scene does show a naked male butt, and there's quite a bit of drinking (sometimes to excess) and drug use, including both pot and crack. Underneath it all, though, is a message of redemption.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
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There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 17 years old Written byhamstergurl09 April 1, 2012

Not Bad, But The Book Was Better

I read the book version of this with my mom and fell in love with Nick Flynn's lyrical writing style and captivating story. When I found out a film was mad... Continue reading

What's the story?

In this dramedy directed by Paul Weitz and inspired by author Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City, it's not easy BEING FLYNN -- neither Jonathan (Robert De Niro), a taxi driver who's been working on his Great American Novel and is convinced he's the best there is, nor his son, Nick (Paul Dano), a promising writer with no life plan. Father and son haven't seen each other in nearly two decades, even after Nick's doting but melancholy mother (Julianne Moore) committed suicide. But after being evicted from his apartment, with no one to help him move his things, Jonathan calls Nick to ask for assistance. Nick helps, and Jonathan disappears once more -- only to show up at the homeless shelter where Nick works.

Is it any good?

One thing Being Flynn gets right: casting. With De Niro as Jonathan and Dano as Nick, the movie is steeped in strong performances that make up for many of its short list of ills. De Niro flexes his muscles and reminds us, with a portrayal marked by subtlety and grace and intensity (in all the right places), why he has long been considered one of the industry's best. The supporting cast is also iron strong. And the film's depiction of the homeless is suffused with empathy and effort rarely seen these days in Hollywood movies; there's no judgment.

It's also worth applauding Weitz's decision to tell the story through an interesting narrative lens, with voiceovers and perspectives from both Jonathan and Nick. At times, the film loses its balance because of this juggling act, but not often. What's unclear, however, is why Nick is so forgiving of Jonathan. Is he truly that generous, or is he simply unwilling to examine how he feels about the situation? While Jonathan feels fully formed, Nick is still an enigma, and that feels a bit like a loss.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Being Flynn's messages. Is it a positive story overall, or a negative one? Can Nick forgive his father?

  • The movie is based on a memoir; how accurate do you think it is to what happened to the writer in real life? Why might filmmakers (or the author himself, for that matter) have changed facts to tell the story?

  • How does Being Flynn compare to other movies in which parents reunite with their children? Does it add anything new to the genre?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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