Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Bravetown Movie Poster Image
Heartfelt but uneven, edgy tale of city teen in small town.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


A small group of jocks beats up Josh, who's bloodied and bruised. A teen who takes drugs ends up in the hospital.


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.


Occasional strong language: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch."


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 15 years old Written bySbown27 January 26, 2018

Best movie

This is the best movie I have ever watched

What's the story?

In BRAVETOWN, hotshot teen DJ Josh (Lucas Till) is the talk of the New York City club scene. But when he accidentally overdoses on pills, he's court-ordered to move in with his estranged father in North Dakota to fulfill treatment and therapy requirements. Bidding farewell to his single mother (Maria Bello), Josh unhappily arrives in North Dakota to live with his loner dad (Tom Everett Scott). At his new high school, Josh meets a friendly freshman, Tony (Jae Head), who tells him about his older sister Mary's (Kherington Payne) down-on-their-luck dance team. During a pep rally, Josh takes pity on the dancers and starts mixing music for them, leading to a collaboration for the upcoming state dance competition. As Josh gets to know Mary, who lost her other brother to war, he also attends mandatory sessions with his therapist, Alex (Josh Duhamel), who's also mourning the loss of a loved one.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fish-out-of-water stories. Why is it interesting to see a character try to adapt to a place they don't naturally fit in? Do you think contrasts are always this sharp in real life?

  • How does Bravetown portray teen drinking/drug use and sexuality? Are there realistic consequences? How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids?

  • What's the movie's message about asking for help? How is the town's reputation for sending soldiers explored?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

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