Changing Hearts

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Changing Hearts Movie Poster Image
Family drama has positive messages but heavy themes.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family loyalty, the importance of loving one's family even when they make it difficult, working through conflict, supporting siblings in their quest for identity and achievement, repairing broken relationships, balancing individual dreams with helping your family when in need, and the importance of finding your identity within a family all are stressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are largely well intentioned, though they're working through anger, sadness, illness, or frustration. A man is angry over past hurts. Another man is reluctant to help his family because it conflicts with his dreams. Both work to reconcile their feelings and resolve the conflict. One woman is deliberately out to sabotage a local business and acts unethically at every turn to do so, including sabotaging a concert to raise money.

Violence

Two men push each other until they both fall into a lake. A character passes away; he's shown on the ground, not breathing, and then the film cuts to his funeral.

Sex

A man and woman kiss.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman is shown drunk, half-asleep on the couch talking about the car she wrecked while drinking. In another scene, two people must carry her from a children's playground, where she has passed out asleep after drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Changing Hearts shows a father struggling with terminal illness, who then passes away; he's shown on the ground, not breathing, and then the film cuts to his funeral. A woman with a drinking problem wrecks a car (not shown) and must be carried by her daughter from a playground where she's passed out. Difficult sibling relationships are marred by betrayal. There's the resolving of old wounds, a struggling family business, and the pull between individual identity and the role we play in our families. Though the film portrays strongly positive messages about sticking through tough times to support your family, there are some intense emotions and heavy themes probably best reserved for older kids. 

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What's the story?

James (Brad Johnson) has a successful PR career in Los Angeles when news of his father's stroke sends him back home to help his mom and siblings keep the struggling family bed-and-breakfast going. James expects to be in and out, quickly back to the good life, until his father's illness takes a turn, and a local competitor, Christina (Daphne Zuniga), begins making aggressive offers to buy the property. 

Is it any good?

The plot gives viewers more to chew on than the acting or production, which sometimes feel deliberately cheap and green-screened. CHANGING HEARTS explores interesting themes about family, particularly how we balance who we are and want to become with our obligations to those we love. Older kids closer to leaving the nest may appreciate those conflicts between living your life and serving your family, but for younger kids, the illness, drinking problems, and deep wounds of sibling rivalry portrayed here are too intense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the film portrays family. Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of an average family? Why, or why not?

  • Do you agree with James' decision at the end of the movie? Why, or why not? What would have happened if he'd taken the opposite path?

  • What is the film's position on family obligation? Do you agree with its message?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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