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 well-meaning but inconsistent dramedy has lots of heart and a worthwhile message: Figure out what matters most, make life meaningful, and keep the faith. But some themes -- including infidelity, husband-and-wife power struggles, and the death of a child -- are simply too mature for young audiences. There's also some swearing (mostly mild), social drinking, and a fair bit of sexual innuendo.
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What's the story?
In this cinematic adaptation of T.D. Jakes' novel, upwardly mobile couple Dave (Morris Chestnut) and Clarisse (Taraji P. Henson) seem destined for a glittering life in Los Angeles. She aims to be a "real estate rainmaker"; he's going to be a baseball star. But then an injury sidelines Dave's dreams, and while Clarisse chases success, he becomes a contractor and channels his athletic aspirations -- and longing to become a parent, which Clarisse doesn't share -- into coaching Little League. They're soon on divergent paths, and their lives are further complicated by a car accident that turns Dave's meddling mother-in-law (Jenifer Lewis) into a daily presence and, more significantly, introduces a single mother (Maeve Quinlan) and her son into their lives.
Is it any good?
Funny, schmaltzy, and, it must be said, preachy, NOT EASILY BROKEN isn't as easy to appreciate as you wish it could be. Though it sets out to be a heartwarming, life-affirming drama, its meandering script, leaden storytelling, and shifting tone undercut its potential. (It's a hilarious buddy movie one minute, a tragic drama the next.) A plotline involving a child's death seems to exist only as a device to prompt the leads to do the requisite "taking stock" of their lives and seems like too sharp a turn to make.
So thank goodness for Henson and Lewis, who, when together onscreen, elevate each other's acting game to Olympian levels. (A scene in which daughter confronts mother about her inability to trust men is particularly effective.) Chestnut does a decent, if run-of-the-mill, job balancing vulnerability with toughness, and his easy rapport with his buddies feels believable. (As Dave's friend Tree, Kevin Hart gets all the hilarious lines, and makes the most of them.) Not Easily Broken is the sum of its parts ... too bad there are just too many incompatible ones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what matters most to them as a family. A great discussion can be had about what makes life meaningful and the roles that faith and church play in the characters' marriage. Older teens can handle a discussion about how the film portrays marriage. Is it more or less realistic than what you've seen in other TV shows and movies? Why?
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