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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dirt tells the story of a young thief who tries to make a better life for himself and his little sister after the intervention of a kind police officer, a program designed to assist delinquent teens, and an auto-racing team. It's centered in the world of off-road racing competitions at various motor speedways, so expect plenty of car action, including several crashes -- none of which result in serious injury or death. Other jeopardy includes threats and menace from a gang of car thieves, with a fight, vandalism, and fire. Some swearing and insults are heard: "s--t," "ass," "damn," "crap," and one racial slur, "black pr--k." The film is male-centered, with some of the female raceway attendants in skimpy costumes. That's balanced by one strong woman in a parental role. Characters drink beer; a man appears drunk in one scene. Product placement, both intentional and incidental, is continuous: "Rockstar Energy Drink" and/or "Lucas Oil" logos are on camera in almost every scene. The film is ethnically diverse.
What's the story?
Dez Truss (DeRon Horton), at 17, is a skilled driver and car thief as DIRT opens. Totally responsible for his little sister, Dez is reliant on stealing cars as a means of support. Apprehended after a dazzling run from the police, Dez is about to get an important break. Sergeant Freeman (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine), a caring officer who sees something worth saving in Dez, appeals to Rick Radden (Kevin Dillon), a former racing champ who now has his own off-road racing team. Not only does Freeman think Dez would benefit from working with the Radden team, but he also wants Rick and his wife, Glenda (Christina Moore), to give the boy a home. Reluctantly, but with compassion, Rick takes Dez on. Dez, faced with losing his beloved sister, is reluctant as well, but soon discovers that he has much to offer and much to gain from the Raddens and from the sport. Unfortunately, just as Dez finds a home and a world in which he can excel, the leader of the car ring for which he worked threatens both Dez and the entire Radden team.
Is it any good?
It's a familiar story with a predictable plot, but an excellent performance by DeRon Horton in the lead and lots of off-road car racing may help this genre movie find an appreciative audience. Horton is very easy to root for. Kevin Dillon is gifted with a role that works for him. The elements are exactly what one might expect from a niche sports drama: obnoxious champion to beat, novice competitor just ripe for giving that champ his comeuppance, and some really nice people trying to rehabilitate a young man before he succumbs to the violence of the street. Product placement in Dirt abounds, threatening to make the movie more ad than drama.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sports movies like Dirt as an ideal genre for movies about underdogs. Why is it so much fun to watch or read a story about an unlikely individual or team striving to get to the top? Do you enjoy sports movies even if you aren't interested in the particular sport that's featured?
Dirt is a predictable movie. When did you first know how the movie would end? Did expecting that ending make Dez's story any less satisfying? Was it enough for you to take the journey with him?
Think about the appeal of "redemption" movies. The most likely reason for their popularity is because it's comforting to know that an individual who has made mistakes can redeem him or herself. Do you believe in second chances? Why or why not? Have you ever hoped for a do-over?
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2018
- Cast: Kevin Dillon, DeRon Horton, Christina Moore, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine
- Director: Alex Ranarivelo
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language and thematic elements
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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