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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Story is about redemption, forgiveness, and community. Josh learns the value of each when he moves from New York City to a small town in North Dakota.
Positive Role Models
Flawed characters are redeemed: Josh grows closer to his father and to his therapist, as well to the people of his new hometown. He learns how to open up to people and how to trust them. Mary is a caring daughter and older sister; she tries to make sure her mom is on her meds and that the household runs smoothly.
Violence & Scariness
A small group of jocks beats up Josh, who's bloodied and bruised. A teen who takes drugs ends up in the hospital.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief sex scene early in the movie: The teen couple involved is mostly clothed, and they're in a car, but it's still obvious what's going on (she's moving up and down on top of him and nearly spilling out of her tank top). Also a couple of kisses.
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Occasional strong language: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
iPhone, Beats headphones, MacBook, Pepsi.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink, take pills, and smoke cigarettes and pot. One ends up in the hospital after taking drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents to know that Bravetown is a fish-out-of-water drama about a young New York City DJ who's court-ordered to move to small-town North Dakota after getting caught with drugs. A bit reminiscent of both Footloose and Step Up, the movie includes underage sexuality, substance use (cigarettes, pot, alcohol, and pills -- including an accidental overdose), and language (a few uses of "f--k" and "f--king"; same for "s--t," "a--hole," and "bulls--t"). The main sex scene happens early on (in a car, featuring a mostly clothed couple, though it's clear what's going on); the second half of the movie just has a couple of kisses. There's also a bit of violence, like when a small group of jocks beats up the main character, leaving him bloodied and bruised. The movie's themes get pretty serious -- war, post-war depression, parent-child reconnection, and grief -- and families sensitive to references to military deployments and war should note that both are major themes of the movie, since the town is best known for sending soldiers off to join the armed forces. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Bravetown is one of those movies that audiences will expect to go one way, and then it goes another. On the surface, it seems like a mix of Footloose (talented city boy with an edgy rep arrives in a conservative small town) and the Step Up franchise/Glee (a group of underdog performers hopes to win a big competition). But there are also incredibly serious themes about war, post-war depression, parent-child reconnection, and grief that compete with the lighter story about the prodigy DJ who helps the sad-sack dance team develop into a serious competitor overnight. Not that the whole thing needed to be all light or all heavy (Footloose, of course, was both), but the back-and-forth occasionally gets frustrating.
What makes the movie work is definitely the performances. The actors are great with the material, and they humanize their characters, who are all dealing with sadness. The always excellent Laura Dern plays Mary's severely depressed mom, who's so in denial about her older son's death that she can barely get out of bed. Duhamel is believable as Josh's clever, laid back therapist with a secret of his own, and Till may look more like a North Dakotan than a New Yorker, but he manages to keep Josh real without being too smug or snobbish. By no means a perfect film, Bravetown nevertheless has heart, and debut director Daniel Duran shows promise in managing an ensemble drama.
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.
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