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Parents' Guide to

Ben Is Back

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Powerful, mature mother-son drama tackles addiction.

Movie R 2018 103 minutes
Ben Is Back Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Great movie

Yes, the whole story was about a guy who was addicted to drugs and also was a dealer. But it shows why you shouldn’t try drugs because it will mess you up. There was some language, but nothing an 11 yr old wouldn’t hear. I recommend for 12+ Mabye 11

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Roberts gives one of the most powerful performances of her career as a devoted mother, opposite the equally excellent Hedges, in this emotional addiction drama. Writer-director Peter Hedges has brilliantly taken one of the pressing crises of our time -- the opioid epidemic -- and put one of Hollywood's most beloved actresses in the central role. Roberts is amazing as Holly, a wealthy mom in suburban New York who loves her son unconditionally and has the resources to help him but is ultimately still helpless as he struggles with the disease that could so easily kill him. There's no way for audiences not to love and empathize with Holly, whether she's smiling and greeting the other attendees of a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, yelling at her son to open a dressing-room door, or learning how to administer a life-saving overdose-reversal drug. She's luminous, even in despair.

Peter Hedges makes it clear where he stands and what viewers should consider without making the dialogue preachy. But it's obvious that, when it comes to addiction, the political is personal and the personal is political. Holly can't get the rescue drug refilled because it might "encourage" drug use, but her former pediatrician was once able to keep plying Ben with stronger and stronger opiates that got the boy hooked. When Holly happens upon that doctor at a mall food court, her quiet wrath is shocking -- but understandable. There are noteworthy supporting performances by Vance, Newton, and Tony-winning stage actress Rachel Bay Jones as a mother whose daughter (a friend of Ben's) died. But the film belongs to Roberts and Hedges, whose on-screen bond is both remarkable and heartbreaking.

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