Parents' Guide to

Braking for Whales

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Mature sibling road trip dramedy focuses on sexuality.

Movie NR 2020 103 minutes
Braking for Whales Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Breaking for whales

It’s great! It’s sad and happy it’s so emotional and exciting

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Is It Any Good?

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

Sibling disdain is familiar territory -- and while it's often comedy gold, first-time feature director Sean McEwen doesn't manage to make it relatable enough here. Their characterizations in Braking for Whales operate in stereotypes, but Aussie Sursok (who's also the film's co-writer and McEwen's wife) and Brit Felton manage to show off their comedic and dramatic range as Middle America siblings. But as much as the actors strive to bring dimension to their poorly drawn characters, it's still a bit cringey. Brandon is a Christian Republican who's trying to "pray away the gay" and has gone broke paying for his own conversion therapy courses. And Star is an agnostic sex addict who's struggling to control her urges through exclusive self-gratification. We never get a grasp on why the two children of a bohemian-type mother might be dealing with these particular issues because, given the stereotypes, it's unlikely she would have raised them with shame. Given the way other characters are treated in the film, the script's answer seems to lie in the part of the country where Brandon and Star grew up.

While the leafy beauty of Oklahoma is shown through the windows of the siblings' Winnebago and the production quite likely took advantage of the state's tax credits, it's basically making fun of the people who populate the region. Star and Brandon's Aunt Jackie (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Uncle Randal (David Koechner) are over-the-top "social conservatives" whose St. Joseph, Missouri, home features a Second Amendment doormat and a shrine to George W. Bush. And a mulleted, gap-toothed Frontier City employee comes on to Star and suggests exchanging a corn dog for sex. But kudos to Austin Swift for elevating his role as a small-town Okie who defies clichés and is secure in his own sexuality. While parts of the script slide toward easy blue humor, the dialogue does have moments that truly snap and crackle -- giving the cast just enough good material to pop.

Movie Details

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