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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 movie has violence, sexual innuendo, and some less-than-sterling behavioral examples. A bigger guy is always threatening a smaller one. The conflict culminates in a final vicious fight between the two bodyguards and the two leads. There is occasional mild profanity and an obscene finger gesture. Cliff and his Dad peek at girls through a telescope. One brief, naked male rear in a locker room. Though subtly played, Dad is obviously sleeping with a visiting flight attendant. It is implied that Grandma, a heavy drinker, is also a sex fiend. She sits in the bar of the family's hotel drinking and propositioning any hapless man who wanders in. On the other hand, the movie also effectively addresses themes of difference, frienship, and looking beyond stereotypes.
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What's the story?
In MY BODYGUARD, teenage Cliff (Chris Makepeace) lives with his dad, who struggles to manage a hotel, and his slightly delirious Grandmother, who drinks like a fish and chases men. On his first day at a new school, Cliff stands his ground when he's bullied by Moody (Matt Dillon) and his gang of hoodlums. Relentlessly harassed by Moody, Cliff turns to a big kid named Linderman for protection. The other students are afraid of Linderman because it's rumored that he's crazy and once killed a kid. After Moody is scared away by Linderman, Cliff and Linderman become fast friends, and Cliff discovers that Linderman is dealing with a great loss in his life. Just when all seems well, Moody fights back, hiring his own nastier bodyguard. Initially reluctant, Linderman fights back while Cliff goes one-on-one with Moody.
Is it any good?
This movie is refreshingly down-to-earth until the final over-the-top fight; teens will likely look past the dated look to embrace the relevant themes. If you have trouble with a bully, get a bigger bully on your side, right? It works in international politics, so why not in schoolyard détente? Of course, the problem with the concept is that someone can always find a bigger, nastier bully to join the fray. That's how wars begin.
Still, My Bodyguard is thankfully missing the sex and wild partying antics of so many recent teen flicks. Instead, this is a low-key portrayal of the trials and tribulations of high school. Student life is portrayed in a brutally realistic fashion that will resonate with middle-schoolers. The acting is equally realistic. Chris Makepeace is ideal as the spunky kid who thinks his way out of a problem (until the end), and Matt Dillon is perfect as the menacing bully.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about coming-of-age films. Why are movies that address the time between being a kid and being a grown up so popular? What other titles can you think of? Since screenplays are written by adults, do you think they can accurately depict the life of adolescent kids? Do you think this one did a good job? Why or why not? What do you think is the message of this film? Do you think that message is right? If you could make your own movie about growing up, what would it be like?
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