A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Boulevard -- a drama about a closeted gay man -- features Robin Williams' final live-action performance. Though it's a coming-out story, the character goes through some very dark experiences, making it appropriate only for older teens and adults. Things get violent when an angry pimp beats up two characters, inflicting a bloody nose and a black eye; there's also some additional arguing, threatening, and brief violence. Language is sporadic but strong, with heavy uses of "f--k" and "f----t," as well as other terms. No sex is shown, but male prostitution is part of the story, and the main prostitute undresses, showing his bottom and the vague hint of his genitals. A character is said to have taken a drug overdose, and there's some social drinking and occasional cigarette smoking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Nolan Mack (Robin Williams) is a mild-mannered banker, living a quiet life with his longtime wife, Joy (Kathy Baker), and occasionally visiting with his best friend, Winston (Bob Odenkirk). Nolan's father is dying in the hospital; while driving home after one visit, Nolan spots a young prostitute, Leo (Roberto Aguire). He pays the young man and spends time with him; they don't have sex, but Nolan is clearly smitten. He begins to come to terms with the fact that he's gay, but as Nolan tries to bring Leo into his life, he finds himself instead drawn further into Leo's seedy world -- one of violent pimps, drugs, and other dark things. Nolan must find the courage to realize what he really wants in his life and go after it.
Is it any good?
Even if the movie stumbles over a few clunky plot turns, Williams' final live-action performance is a powerful one, still and deep, calling on limitless reserves of pain and longing. Dito Montiel directs, and -- typical of his work -- his rich characters and realistic atmosphere outweigh his storytelling. In some of his films, the balance tips the wrong way, but in BOULEVARD, it works. And that's mainly thanks to Williams, in his most soul-searching mode.
As Nolan's wise wife, Baker is terrific; she knows something is up based on the slightest irregularity in Nolan's routine. And Odenkirk is a breath of fresh air as a best friend who doesn't suffer foolishness gladly. Scenes with a scary pimp threatening Leo and Nolan feel hysterical and fake, and moments when Nolan frantically tries to keep his secret life under wraps are fraught with awkward coincidence. But Williams never strikes a false note, and it's a strong farewell to a great actor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of a coming-out story. What does it mean to "come out"? Does the term only apply to gay characters? What do these kinds of stories teach us?
How did the violence in Boulevard affect you? How frequent was it? How intense was it? Do you think it was necessary to the story?
How does the movie portray prostitution? Is it glamorized? Do you feel sympathy for the prostitute character?
Does this movie use stereotypes? If so, how? If not, what would the stereotypes in a "coming out" story look like?
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