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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Fairly frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," and more.
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.