A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bend It Like Beckham has strong themes of teamwork, friendship, and parents learning to support their children's interests/dreams. Expect some swearing (inlcuding a few uses of "s--t") and innuendo, as well as kissing and an implied sexual situation between a couple committed to marrying each other. Sexual orientation is discussed, and several of the under 21-year-old characters have a beer or a glass of wine, but they drink responsibly and are of legal age in the UK/Germany, where the scenes take place. Jess hides her soccer playing from her family and lies to protect her secret, but ultimately she's a driven, ambitious female character who follows her heart's desire.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, Jess (Parminder K. Nagra) is the obedient daughter of her tradition-minded parents who have mapped her life's flight path from law degree to Indian husband to perfecting her ability to cook aloo gobi. They have also allowed her to develop her natural soccer playing talents by turning a blind eye to her practices in the park with her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana). When Jess' older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi), prepares to get married, their parents decide that it is time for Jess to settle down. Just as they are telling Jess to curb her sports pursuits, she is offered the opportunity to take her playing to the next level, where she meets fellow player Juliette (Keira Knightley) and her good-looking Irish coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
Is it any good?
Spunky and easy to watch, this feel-good movie bridges the distance between old country and new with the deft touch of a David Beckham penalty kick. For any girl whose athletic endeavors were ever questioned by conservative parents, Bend It Like Beckham is a color-drenched fairy tale where you know from the opening credits that the story will end in the "happily ever after" category for plucky Jess. Yes, this sunny little movie is about second generation Indian families in England striving to maintain traditions that kids, more British than Indian, find increasingly irrelevant. However, no matter what your cultural background, the central theme that you should follow your bliss no matter what the hurdle is universal.
While the story might not seem strikingly original, the colorful tones of the movie, the over-lit action scenes and the genuine appeal of the characters, especially Jess, make this film enjoyable, engaging and entertaining from the first moment to the last. Even if the answers seem a bit simple, it is nice to think that complicated relationships and challenges can be resolved with the proper communications and the ability to make nice, round chappatis.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Jess feels she can't talk to her family about her love of sports in Bend It Like Beckham. How does she defends her sneaking around?
How does her father's cricket experience impact his view of Jess' soccer playing?
What might be the common bond between Irish Joe and Indian Jess?
- In theaters: March 12, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2003
- Cast: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keira Knightley, Pariminder Nagra
- Director: Gurinder Chadha
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual content.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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