Dallas Buyers Club
Grim, intense movie tells a powerful, relevant true story.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dallas Buyers Club is an intense drama based on a true story about finding treatment for AIDs in the early days of the disease. The movie contains very strong subject matter overall -- including graphic unsafe sex, drug abuse, and bigotry -- but tells a powerful and relevant story. There's some fighting and threats, and a little blood. Some nudity is visible during sex scenes. Language is very strong, and includes several racial and homophobic slurs. Drugs are prevalent, both illegal recreational drugs and AIDS medicines, and characters often drink heavily, or abuse their meds with alcohol. Many characters smoke cigarettes.
What's the story?
In the 1980s, Dallas good ol' boy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a rodeo cowboy and an electrician who loves to party and sleep with lots of women. A trip to the hospital after an accident at work reveals that he has the HIV virus. He learns that only an early, experimental drug is available. He obtains some illegally, but his source dries up. He finds an outcast doctor in Mexico who helps him learn about the benefits of simple proteins and vitamins. He also forms a friendship with a sick drag queen, Rayon (Jared Leto), who helps him overcome his homophobia. Together, they form a "buyers club," wherein other AIDS patients buy memberships to receive helpful medicines. But, the big drug companies are not happy about this.
Is it any good?
Many will be impressed by Matthew McConaughey's performance; the actor lost a great amount of weight and appears totally different. Likewise, Jared Leto clearly worked equally hard on his role as a drag queen. And the story they're telling is a powerful one; viewers of a younger generation may be interested -- and shocked -- to see how slowly drug companies reacted to the AIDS crisis and what ordinary people did to help themselves in that situation.
Director Jean-Marc Vallee, whose last movie was the bland costume epic The Young Victoria, films DALLAS BUYERS CLUB in a kind of grungy, muddy haze, perhaps trying to recall the look of 1980s home video. But this approach doesn't help the grim, queasy story about sickness go down any easier. The movie also takes many shortcuts, compressing and compacting its story down to manageable size. This technique squashes any potential moments of life, as well as making the main character's transformation seem too clean and abrupt.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about the actions of the drug companies and the FDA as portrayed in this movie. Were they doing the best they could? Or was business (and profits) getting in the way of helping people?
- Even though Ron Woodroof more or less broke the law, is he still a hero?
What's the movie's position on AIDS treatment? Does the movie advocate healthy living over hospitals and prescription drugs? Where do the two meet?
|Theatrical release date:||November 1, 2013|
|DVD release date:||February 4, 2014|
|Cast:||Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey|
|Run time:||117 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||pervasive language, some strong sexual content, nudity and drug use|
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
About Our Rating System
The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.