A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages of integrity, courage, gratitude. Strong themes of finding self, reconnecting to heritage, standing up to bullying behavior.
Positive Role Models
Jenny is at first upset about having to spend her summer in Thailand with her grandparents but quickly finds a friend at school, Boonrod. Even though Jenny uses violence to stop some kids beating him up, she later shows compassion for Boonrod's assailants. Boonrod is a "kindly spirit" and good friend to Jenny. He cares for her scrapes, calms her when she panics, helps her overcome a scary nightmare.
Ninety percent of film has Thai actors on-screen, even though subtitles often don't translate what periphery characters say. Some viewers might critique the film for highlighting a more rudimentary kind of Thai community and lifestyle (in a small village) that portrays Thais to be survivalists, alcoholics, or domestic violence abusers, and where teachers punish their students in humiliating ways. Still, the clear stars are a 13-year-old Asian girl and her Thai friend, a younger boy who doesn't speak and loves his pet buffalo.
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Violence & Scariness
A father whips his young son with a switch (a long flexible stick/branch) on separate occasions. A woman kicks a man in the privates. A man gets beaten up by other men. A father locks his young son in a cage. A girl punches and beats up an older boy. Boys chase a girl with sticks but don't catch her. A vine/tree monster haunts a girl's dreams. In one, the monster wraps around her mother and drags her away. Scenes suggest that a girl's mother died in the past. A pet buffalo gets scared and runs away through barbed wire fencing; it cuts him and wraps around him in the process. A boy starts to lift up a girl's skirt suggestively, but it quickly turns out he saw a leech and wanted to remove it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An older boy in the village clearly likes Jenny, a 13-year-old girl. Two kids briefly kiss.
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Strong language includes only one "bitch" and one "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink alcohol, and one man is portrayed as being addicted to alcohol. Adults also smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Best Worst Adventure is a Thai indie film about an American 13-year-old sent to her grandmother's small village in Thailand to spend the summer. There are some moments of light violence, like when a man has to face a bunch of other men for not paying up a debt. A father also whips his boy with a switch on multiple occasions, also locking the little boy in a cage. A girl faces down a bunch of village boys who consistently pick on and beat up a smaller boy. The girl also repeatedly punches one of the bigger boys until he's bloodied and bruised. There is also a brief scene of animal cruelty when a pet buffalo runs through and gets wrapped up in barbed wire fencing. Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. One man seems addicted to alcohol and is abusive because of it. Strong language includes one "bitch" and one "damn." In terms of sexual content, one scene shows a boy reaching for a girl's skirt, but it turns out a leech needed to be removed. Later, two kids briefly kiss. 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 oddly tender indie Thai film has heart. After some cultural differences jolt the viewer out of Western expectations, My Best Worst Adventure settles into a film that features a great friendship at its core. The script is minimal but still manages to pack a lot of depth into the characters, environment, and story. For example, much like how Jenny can't initially understand her surroundings, non-Thai viewers might also feel this disorientation, as lots of the spoken Thai by other periphery characters aren't subtitled.
Lily Patra also crushes the role of quiet 13-year-old Jenny, and she's on the screen almost the entire film. Without talking, it's never unclear what's going on in the mind of Jenny, and this subtle and seamless acting might be easily overlooked. And the same must be said about Pan Rugtawatr, who plays Boonrod, an adorable little boy who loves his pet buffalo. Lastly, the competition at the end adds that final element of something to really root for.
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.