A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes second chances, discipline, hard work, rehabilitation, and healing power of sports and ambition. Also sheds light on wounded warriors/disabled veterans and the various ways they can overcome their challenges. Family and friendship, teamwork, mentorship are all valued.
Positive Role Models
Bennett is determined to work hard at his rehab so he can race again. Sophie is dedicated to her husband and son. Cal is a loving, faithful father and grandfather. Cyrus is a loyal friend and boss. Racial/ethnic diversity limited to two Iranian American cousins involved with motocross, one of whom makes self-deprecating Muslim/Arab jokes. Movie is male-centric, has few women other than Bennett's wife.
Violence & Scariness
Movie begins with soldiers being wounded in a firefight; they're shot at and trip a landmine/IED that explodes and injures the main character and another soldier, both of whom need intensive recovery and rehab. Bennett hurts himself falling off the motorcycle during a couple of races. Two characters punch each other.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple embraces and kisses, a couple of times suggestively in bed. Sophie jokes that she can help get sponsorships because the "sponsors are men" and she "has boobs." Scantily clad women walk around the races.
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"Bulls--t," "hell," "a--hole," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "jerk," "you suck," "pr--k," "boobs," "trailer trash," "oh my God." Jokes about a character's Iranian/Muslim heritage (made by the character himself, but still troubling): "Do you think you came across my cousin Mahmoud?" "He only dabbled in terrorism." "Aren't you Muslim?"/"Only in front of my grandma."
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Products & Purchases
Lucas Oil, Protect the Harvest, MAV TV (all companies owned by the movie's executive producer) are plastered over nearly everything at races. Lots of other corporate sponsors and companies prominently featured, including Kawasaki, Yamaha, Wiley X sunglasses, Renthal, VW, Panterra Racing, GMC, KTM, Suzuki, Chevrolet, Cyclone.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bennett's War -- a drama that follows a medically discharged soldier (Michael Roark) who spends a year in rehab -- is part motocross-comeback story, part wounded-warrior tale. Produced by motocross-industry sponsors and insiders, the film brings the sport to mainstream audiences while heavily promoting its corporate products and brands (primarily Lucas Oil, MAV TV, and Protect the Harvest, all companies that are run by the filmmakers). There's occasional cursing (including "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bulls--t," and more) and a few jokes that come across as Islamophobic. The movie opens with wartime violence that seriously injures two American soldiers, and later the main character is reinjured during motocross-related accidents. A married couple embraces and kisses. In addition to promoting the sports the producers sponsor, the film has messages about second chances, discipline, hard work, and the value of teamwork and mentorship. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This formulaic but feel-good drama is filled with enough racing scenes to keep motocross fans happy. Off-road motorcycle racing hasn't been featured in as many movies as other, more mainstream sports, but Bennett's Way does a serviceable job off introducing it (as well as real motocross athletes, sponsors, and venues) in an accessible way to the uninitiated. There's not much substance to the plot, but audiences will root for the earnest, hard-working Marshall as he trains and overcomes setbacks to place at various races.
That said, all of the overt product placement is off-putting. Yes, races are heavily sponsored in real life, too, but the Lucas Oil branding becomes even more blatant when you know that company founder Forrest Lucas, who also has a cameo in the film, is one of the movie's financial backers. The script also has a few Muslim/Iranian/terrorist jokes, but since the actor (and the character he plays) saying the lines is Iranian, the script toes the line between self-deprecating and Islamophobic. At least the decent performances, compelling race sequences, and empowering messages about wounded warriors finding their passion again help make up for the overly familiar storyline and cliché-filled script.
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.