Violence, language in tense coming-of-age drama.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hulu drama Bruiser is a story with significant violence, tension, and language. Themes revolve around how rage and violence can get passed down from father to son, generation after generation. The Black cast features two father figures for a 14-year-old boy, but they both have shady pasts, and both still struggle to control their tempers. The mom is stuck in the middle playing peacemaker. Tensions rise throughout the film, and there are fist fights between teenagers and adults alike that result in serious injury and bloodied faces. There's also discussion of past beatings causing brain damage, a boy beating up his father to the brink of death or a broken neck, a man committing suicide, and the inhumanity of military drone attacks. Adults drink wine and beer at meals and parties. A man smokes a joint and offers it to a 14-year-old (who turns it down). There's mention of a prior arrest for possession and distribution of cocaine as well as a drunk parent. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "goddamn," "ass," "a--hole," hell," "bitch," "d--k," "balls," "p---y," and the "N" word. A woman flirts with her husband, calling him "sexy" and telling him to show her his "ass."
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What's the Story?
In BRUISER, Darious (Jalyn Hall) is on break from a fancy private school and heading home to spend the summer with his mom, Monica (Shinelle Azoroh), and dad, Malcolm (Shamier Anderson). Uneasy about being back home and reconnecting with his old neighborhood pals, Darious gets in a fight on his first day back with a local kid. As he runs away, he spots a man living in a houseboat by the river. Darious introduces himself to Porter (Trevante Rhodes) and is drawn back to get to know the man more and also learn how to defend himself in a fight. It turns out that Porter has his own history with Monica and Malcolm. When their shared past comes to light, Darious's life will never be the same again.
Is It Any Good?
Though its story lulls at times, this coming-of-age drama features a stellar cast that does a poignant job of conveying how violence gets passed down between generations of men. Bruiser successfully builds tension with the help of an unsettling score and subtle expressions of how teen Darious' behavior alters to match the adults in his life. Many key scenes also take place at night, and the characters themselves are increasingly on edge as the film progresses.
Anderson's Malcolm is all suppressed rage in crisp white work-shirts, while Rhodes plays Porter as the cool, laidback outsider equally prone to anger. Hall is moving and believable as the boy caught between two imperfect dads and trying to figure out his own version of manhood. That includes experimenting with violence himself, breaking some of his strict family rules, and pushing his parents away -- even his supremely patient mom, warmly personified by Azoroh.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what Darious learns from each of his fathers in Bruiser. Are the men modeling positive behavior for their son? What do we know about their own fathers and pasts?
What is the mom's role amidst these three males? Did you feel she's ever put in unfair situations? Why?
How does the film build tension?
Do the opening and closing scenes relate to each other? How did you interpret the opening image of the three men lying in a field?
- On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2023
- Cast: Jalyn Hall, Trevante Rhodes, Shamier Anderson
- Director: Miles Warren
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 27, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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