Coming to My Senses

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Coming to My Senses Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu about the power of a positive attitude.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 81 minutes

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

Positive messages

Documentary shows the power of maintaining a positive attitude in the face of daunting challenges. 

Positive role models & representations

Through hard work, persistence, perseverance, determination, and a positive mental attitude, Aaron Baker was able to not only regain movement after suffering a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, but also take on extreme challenges. He refused to listen to neurosurgeons who gave him a one-in-a-million chance of having the ability to even feed himself. After their insurance stopped covering Aaron's physical therapy bills, Aaron's mother tirelessly searched for a kinesiologist willing to work with Aaron, and finally found one in Taylor Isaacs. Isaacs, Aaron, and Aaron's mother later started a facility that works with those who have been paralyzed to help them regain movement and more independence. 

Violence

Some motocross race violence -- crashes and collisions. Aaron Baker's injury that left him paralyzed is discussed. 

Sex
Language

Occasional profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "pissed," "ass," "hell." 

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Aaron's mother talks of her struggles with alcohol and relays an incident in which she drove drunk on the highway until pulled over and arrested. Talk of how she turned her life around after this. Picture of Aaron as a teen with a bottle of Jim Beam. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Coming to My Senses is a 2017 documentary about a motocross racer paralyzed in an accident who defied the odds and regained movement of his body. Overall, this movie is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, persistence, and, especially, a positive mental attitude.  It also raises concerns about the lack of available treatment for the 1.46 million Americans with spinal cord injuries. Aaron's mother talks of her struggles with alcohol and relays an incident in which she drove drunk on the highway until pulled over and arrested. The talk of the struggles that Aaron and his family went through on his long road to recovery might be too emotionally intense for some kids. Occasional profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "pissed," "ass," and "hell." 

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What's the story?

COMING TO MY SENSES introduces Aaron Baker, who suffered a spinal cord injury from a motocross accident in 1999 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was told by his doctors that he had a one-in-a-million chance of even feeding himself again, much less walking and having any kind of independence. As someone who had always lived an active lifestyle up to that point, Baker was determined to prove his doctors wrong. Through grueling physical therapy and a positive mental attitude, Baker was slowly but steadily regaining more and more control over his limbs. After his family's insurance no longer covered Baker's treatment, it seemed that he would lose all the ground he had gained, but his mother searched everywhere for a kinesiologist willing to continue building on what Aaron had achieved thus far. They found the right person, and as Baker gained more and more movement and independence, he began to take on and achieve goals that would be daunting even for the average able-bodied person, such as biking across the United States (on a tandem bike, and then on a specially designed tricycle) or walking (aided only by a walker) 19.6 miles across Death Valley. His experiences and what he learned through his suffering, challenges, and accomplishments led him to want to be an inspiration to those who have also suffered spinal cord injuries, culminating in opening a low-cost long-term exercise facility in which those who were given the same grim prognosis as Baker apply persistence and positivity to their own lives to regain as much mobility as possible.   

Is it any good?

This is a powerful and inspiring documentary that shows the power of hard work, persistence, determination, and a positive mental attitude. Baker, who had lived an active life and was a professional motocross racer until an accident during a race left him paralyzed from the neck down, discusses the highs and lows of his long road to regaining body movement after doctors told him he had a million-to-one chance of even feeding himself again. Through the filming of his 19.2- mile walk across Death Valley using only a walker for support, we see what's possible through tremendous effort and willpower. 

Coming to My Senses also raises broader concerns about the lack of health insurance and long-term exercise facilities for the 1.46 million Americans with spinal cord injuries -- there are only 35 such facilities across the country -- without being preachy or heavy-handed. The footage of Death Valley's harsh but striking landscape is beautifully rendered through director Dominic Gill's camerawork. At a time when the news and social media is filled with so much caustic negativity, Coming to My Senses is a much-needed reminder of what can happen when one man's positive attitude and hard-won wisdom becomes a force for good in a world that needs it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about biographical documentaries. How does Coming to My Senses tell the story of Aaron Baker? How does it combine Aaron's present and past to tell his story? How does it compare to other biographical documentaries? 

  • What were some of the deeper messages the documentary expressed in terms of health care and health insurance for those who have suffered spinal cord injuries? 

  • How did the filming of Aaron's walk across Death Valley convey both his ambitions and the challenges he faces each day? How did Aaron show perseverance?

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