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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to be a story of empowerment; whether the movie succeeds may depend on viewer's perspective. Although a character does learn to stand up for himself, there are mixed messages: Main character lies about important things and doesn't support a dear friend when she needs him most.
Positive Role Models
A 17-year-old who's extremely self-conscious about his weight and is too timid to stand up for himself eventually learns to. But it's not totally clear what leads to his breakthrough. A mother leaves her kids by themselves for the weekend so she can see what's going on with their father back home. An elderly man is rather cruel and excessively exacting. The most positive role model would probably be the sister's boyfriend: an appealing young man who stands up for the bullied.
Violence & Scariness
Outrageous bullying, including a character being beaten and kidnapped, which leads to scenes that verge on sexual assault (a boy is stripped and left in the woods).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens fool around in front of a fireplace -- they may be partially naked, but it's not clearly shown.
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Rare use of strong language; words include "a--hole" and "goddamn." Use of ethnic slurs including "wop" and "kike."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The teen main character gets drunk on rum and Coke and vomits. Young people smoke. Adults drink at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although Measure of a Man is intended to be an empowerment tale about an overweight teen (Blake Cooper) who learns to stand up for himself, its messages are muddled by poor decision-making and selfishness. Expect to see cruel/upsetting bullying, including a beating and kidnapping scene that verges on sexual assault (a teen boy is stripped and left in the woods). There's a bit of strong language ("a--hole," "goddamn," and some ethnic slurs), as well as teen drinking (including to excess) and smoking. Teen characters fool around, but there's no clear nudity. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This coming-of-age dramedy doesn't reward viewers' good will. The slack pacing and lack of insight in the dialogue don't help, but the flat presentation of the main character is what really makes it hard to hold on to the story. Measure of a Man feels under-written. The stiff narration blocks often feel as if they've stopped short of the point. Bobby's journey isn't compelling because it takes so long for so little to happen. And Bobby often makes poor decisions and tells lies for no other reason -- apparently -- than to serve the story. He isn't very sympathetic because he doesn't really seem to want anything. Even when his best friend needs him most, he's not there for her; he only tries to reconnect with her when he's upset and needs something from her.
The movie seems meant to be a comedy, or at least a comedy-drama, but the only mildly amusing moment comes during an attempted bird funeral. There's a general lack of energy to the proceedings, and lack of genuine reaction in the lead performance. For instance, when he's being beaten and kidnapped, Bobby doesn't scream or struggle. And when he's supposed to have an epiphany, there's no indication that it has actually happened. Measure of a Man feels as misguided as this actual quote: "This is your second chance, Robert, and, like baseball batters, you do not get a third." But hitters do get a third chance; there are three strikes in baseball. This film feels like the umpire called Strike Two, and the batter trudged back to the dugout, defeated.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.