A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mature drama isn't likely to be on most teens' must-see lists. In the same vein as Traffic and Crash, it attempts to capture the complex nature of immigration to America (both legal and illegal), with desperate characters doing desperate things. While the film presents a nuanced, complex look at the issue, it also contains scenes of blunt sexuality (including partial nudity) and brutal violence (intense shootouts and more). There's also lots of strong language ("f--k," racial epithets, and more), drinking, and smoking.
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What's the story?
Set in L.A., CROSSING OVER follows several characters through the process of immigration: two Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers (Harrison Ford and Cliff Curtis), an immigration lawyer (Ashley Judd), a government worker (Ray Liotta), a Bangladeshi teen (Summer Bishil), an aspiring musician (Jim Sturgess), an Australian would-be actress (Alice Eve), a Mexican factory worker (Alice Braga), and a Korean-born teen (Justin Chon). As the characters' lives intersect, they make difficult choices -- such as whether to obey the law or break it in the name of the greater good and whether to stay in America by any means necessary or leave everything behind instead of suffering brutal injustice and indignity in the name of trying to stay.
Is it any good?
Crossing Over serves as a great demonstration of how good intentions don't always mean good moviemaking. Having a broad group of characters in a film can often mean that the individual characters seem thin. Directed by Wayne Kramer -- best-known for violent diversions likeThe Cooler and Running Scared -- Crossing Over shoots for the same big, widescreen novelistic sweep as films like Traffic, Crash, and Fast Food Nation, but it lacks a certain gracefulness in its execution. For example, Bishil's teen is foolishly stupid-brave in a way that such an obviously smart kid wouldn't be -- but her foolhardiness does advance the plot toward its conclusion.
The film's plotlines intersect -- some naturally and some with a forced clumsiness -- and much of the movie's closure feels a touch too earnest. Ford is better than you'd think as an aging immigration officer who cares too much, but he's under-used and under-written. Ultimately, Crossing Over is a textbook example of what happens when a movie maker's reach exceeds his or her grasp.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's central issue of immigration. Why do you think this issue is a hot button in the media?
How do TV shows and movies typically address the issue of immigration? And why do you think so many people break the law to live in America, risking their freedom and/or their lives?
Do you think the immigration process is easier for Caucasian, English-speaking immigrants than it is for people of color? Why or why not? How hard -- and how necessary -- is it for immigrants to adapt their cultural values to fit within the American mainstream?
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