A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Brother's Keeper is a faith-based movie about forgiveness, redemption, and sacrifice. Its twin teen heroes are persistently faced with life-changing circumstances totally beyond their control. How they manage or don't manage to survive is at the heart of the story. The story is set in what appears to be an all-white Georgia in the 1950s, with the exception of two African-American prisoners, and the portrayal of corporate developers, law enforcement, and the courts is grim and, even by that decade's standards, unrealistically lax and cruel. Some violent sequences (Spoiler alerts: an attempted rape, a murder-suicide, an electrocution, a wrist-slashing attempt), along with the disturbing deaths of important characters, make this iffy material for kids and tweens. Smoking is pervasive; the plot turns on alcohol-induced behavior, including teen drunkenness.
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What's the story?
In BROTHER'S KEEPER twin teens, orphaned by a violent act years earlier, work through the ups and downs of senior year at their Georgia high school in 1957. Pete (twin Alex Miller) and Andy (twin Graham Miller) are as different as work and play. Pete -- solid, religious, in love with a beautiful classmate -- plans to attend a seminary and marry after graduation. Andy -- impulsive, unmotivated, with a fondness for partying -- has no plans and struggles to get through. When a violent murder occurs at the school prom, both boys' lives are changed forever. A combination of circumstantial evidence, a rich man's power, as well as a disgraceful policing and justice system, puts one twin's life in jeopardy. Over the next year, their love for each other, their constantly evolving faith, and the people they encounter help them navigate the raging waters with which they're faced.
Is it any good?
Faith-based movies can be inspirational and entertaining to a wide, select audience: The genre is not well-served with movies such as this one. Given one-dimensional characters, weak directing and editing, and the gaping holes in logic, the production was doomed despite an earnest attempt to deliver a meaningful experience. Seasoned actors are defeated by the on-the-nose, corny dialogue; these two leads try their best but can't meet the challenge. "Reveals" or "twists" that are supposed to surprise result more in "Huh?" or "What?" than "Wow!" All that, along with exaggerated hyper-villains and disturbing scenes (an electrocution, several violent deaths), make this movie difficult to recommend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which of this film's characters are believable and which are not. Think about whether it is more artful and meaningful to have behavior and internal logic come from the characters or to have the story dictate how the characters will behave. Why?
How did drinking and drunkenness affect the characters in this story? Is there a lesson to be learned from these situations?
Why do you think the filmmakers set the movie in Georgia during the 1950s? What effect did both of those factors have on the story?
- In theaters: November 1, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2015
- Cast: Alex Miller, Graham Miller, Ray Wise
- Director: Josh Mills
- Studio: Desert Wind Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, violence, disturbing images, and some teen drinking and smoking
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