A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Country Crush is a musical drama with country roots and romance at its heart set in modern-day America (filmed in Canada, with some popular Canadian country artists). The simple formula -- boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back (or will he?) -- is accompanied by more than a dozen songs (solos, duets, production numbers), most of which are message-driven and appear to have been written specifically for the film's emotional moments. A military battle sequence takes place in which guns are fired and American soldiers are trapped by the enemy; bodies fall. In one other action scene, a hero delivers a solid punch to a loathsome opponent. There's mild profanity ("damn," "pissed off") and sexual references and kissing. It's an earnest film, filled with directives about the importance of strong relationships, holding onto values, living a righteous life, and not wasting life's "precious moments." The story, with some mature themes, includes sad moments (spoiler alert: the death of a major character). Okay for older kids.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Two good-hearted young people, looking for meaning and joy in their lives, almost find each other in the early scenes of COUNTRY CRUSH. Nancy Taylor (Madeline Merlo) desperately wants to be a country music star. Charlie Bishop (Munro Chambers, earnest and appealing) is a stand-up son and brother who has sacrificed his own dreams for his family. When Nancy's car breaks down, Charlie rides his tow-truck to the rescue. They spend an innocent, spontaneous, and intense day together, sense that there could be a meaningful connection between them, then part with a brief kiss and a promise to meet up again... sometime. But life gets in their way. Nancy lives in the big city, and Charlie stays in his small rural town. Nancy's pursuing her career; Charlie is deeply enmeshed in the fabric of his community, especially when his beloved brother, Cody, a proud member of the U.S. military, leaves to serve another tour of duty in the Middle East, leaving his devoted wife Katherine (Jana Kramer) and a young son behind. When Charlie does finally take a chance on a trip to see Nancy, a series of miscommunications and unpleasant confrontations, along with Nancy's naive ambition, result in emotional disaster. Charlie returns, saddened but wiser. Then tragedy strikes. Trivialities and gamesmanship and distractions become insignificant. It's only a matter of time before "what might have been" may actually become what is.
Is it any good?
Music, heartfelt acting, and sincere, if obvious, messages help balance the predictability and by-the-numbers plot, but they can't save the movie from an overall blandness and familiarity. There's a big difference between old-fashioned and outdated, and unfortunately, Country Crush seems to land in the second category. Other than a few central characters, all the other players are one-dimensional, even corny. Gender roles are more traditional than modern. And, it doesn't help that the original songs written to help sell the story are so on the nose, even when they're nicely delivered and show some directing flair. Still, this movie may find a receptive audience among fans of country music, homespun values, and uncomplicated storytelling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "predictability" in Country Crush. Which, if any, events surprised you? How early did you suspect what would happen to Charlie and Nancy? To Katherine and Cody? Are you satisfied by simply taking the journey with the characters even though you know how a story or movie will end? What elements of this movie worked well enough to keep you involved?
Often events cause us to reevaluate our values and goals. Think about both Nancy's and Charlie's dilemmas. What do you think motivated Nancy's final decision? What inspired Charlie's change of heart at the film's end? Do you think the filmmakers were clear about the reasons for their changes? Why or why not?
Music is a primary component of this movie. Did the personalized songs help you understand what the characters were going through at special moments? Which, if any, of those songs might find an audience without the story as a complement?
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