Bennett's Song

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Bennett's Song Movie Poster Image
Well-intentioned tale about adoption has mild language.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family doesn't have to be made of people related by blood. Hate should be met with love. Just because you get angry doesn't mean you can hit people. Name-calling is never an excuse for violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cole and Susan are kind, generous, decent people with hearts so big they each adopted seven children. Their kids all defend each other.

Violence

In response to unspecified racial slurs, protective older kids stand up for their younger siblings.

Sex

Two adults kiss. An adult's pregnancy is announced. A teacher complains that a teenager has made a science joke about snow men with "snow balls" and snow women with "snow-varies."
 

Language

"Bitch," "ass," "fart," "hell," and "damn." A racial slur is referred to but not mentioned by name.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bennett's Song is a family movie that highlights the benefits of adoption. A widower and a divorcee who've each adopted seven children from all over the world fall in love and blend their families, raising issues about racism, loyalty, child-rearing, education, competition, and tolerance. Language includes "bitch," "hell," "damn," and "ass." In response to unspecified racial slurs, protective older kids stand up for their younger siblings. A teacher complains that a teenager has made a science joke about snow men with "snow balls" and snow women with "snow-varies."

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What's the story?

BENNETT'S SONG is a play on the name of the two protagonists, Cole Bennett (Harley Wallen) and Susan Song (Aphrodite Nikolovski), two tenderhearted middle-aged people who meet and find out that they've both adopted seven children each. They quickly fall in love, blend their families, and face all the tribulations of raising a large brood, making ends meet, and dealing with cranky neighbors who disapprove of their noisy clan. The parents and siblings make sacrifices for each other, defend each other from racist comments, and cheer on musical, tech, and other accomplishments. 

Is it any good?

There's a sweetness and tenderness to this movie that makes its amateurish feel almost forgivable. Bennett's Song is a public service announcement touting the virtues of tolerance, family togetherness, loyalty, decency, and humane child-rearing. But the camera work, lighting, editing, and script are undeniably unpolished and the acting is downright clumsy. The movie has no narration until the closing moments, when one character's voice-over speaks as if that character had been telling the entire story from her point of view, a notion for which there's no evidence anywhere else in the film.

A viewer may want to root for Bennett's Song, but even this feeling can be undermined when it repeatedly tells us that Bennett, played by Harley Wallen (who is also the director), is "cute for an old guy," a "hot dad," and someone who should be showing off his six-pack and "guns" to attract women. Overall, this is so well-intentioned that one wishes that the script, direction, and actors were good enough to give the movie's wonderful ideas the support they deserve.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be a family. Bennett's Song suggests that there's more to family loyalty than blood connections and genetic closeness. What do you think makes different unrelated people become a family?

  • The parents try to see humor in every situation. How do you think humor helps us handle difficulties?

  • Some kids make unkind remarks about the adopted children, and their adopted siblings stand up for them -- in one case hitting the verbally offensive student. Do you think the school handled the situation well? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love family tales

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