A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Believe is a fact-based drama about Georgie, an 11-year-old boy in who will do anything to play football (i.e. soccer, for American audiences). That includes lying to his mother and taking her life savings (only to lose it all at the dog track), and stealing a man's wallet. Georgie and his mother are in mourning after losing his father in a car accident. Younger children may find that subject matter upsetting, along with several scenes involving a plane crash that killed many of the Manchester United football team players. Legendary football coach Matt Busby survived the crash, and the guilt leads him to take Georgie under his wing and coach his football team. Adults drink and smoke (the latter is just in a background context).
What's the story?
Georgie (Jack Smith) is an 11-year-old boy mourning the death of his father in 1984 in Salford, England. All he wants to do is play football (i.e. soccer), but his mother (Natascha McElhone) has something else in mind. She tries to get Georgie a scholarship at a good school and hires him a tutor to pass the test. While at the school, Georgie sees a flyer for a football competition and rallies his friends to form a team with him. He needs money for the entry fee, so he steals a man’s wallet. As would only happen in a movie, the wallet belongs to Matt Busby (Brian Cox), the former coach of Manchester United and one of the best coaches in the world. Busby -- the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed many members of his team -- decides that it's possible the reason he survived was to help Georgie and his pals form a winning team.
Is it any good?
BELIEVE is a predictable sports movie with a convoluted story. Georgie is a great football player and a bit of a brat. He's not terribly likeable, which makes it hard to understand why everyone is trying so hard to help him out. Cox is good as legendary coach Busby, but co-star Toby Stephens is strange as Dr. Farquar, Georgie's tutor and his key into the fancy private school that his mother is trying to get him into. The movie is set in the '80s, but Dr. Farquar seems like he popped in from another era.
There's a lot of talk in the movie about Georgie dealing with his father's death, his mother dealing with Georgie's behavior, and Busby facing life after his team has died, but not enough about football. Georgie is supposed to be a great player and a great leader, but not much of that is shown. It's not a bad family movie, but as a sports movie, it's not great.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the fact that Georgie is having a hard time in his life -- his father has recently passed away, and he's forced to study nonstop for his entrance exam -- excuses all of the lying and stealing he does to be able to play football. Do the ends ever justify the means?
Georgie isn't very nice to his mother. Kids: Do you ever take out your frustrations on your parents? Do you think they understand?
Are the characters intended to be role models? Do their actions -- which aren't always purely motivated -- change how you feel about them?
How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers change how things really happened?
- In theaters: September 12, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: November 11, 2014
- Cast: Brian Cox, Natascha McElhone, Phillip Jackson, Jack Smith
- Director: David Scheinmann
- Studios: Excel Entertainment, Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, language and smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.