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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Reassures that following one's own path is crucial in spite of deterrents such as family and/or societal disapproval. Broadens a narrow definition of "family" to include friends, mentors, and supporters. Values promoted: strong communication, respect for others, empathy, determination, and courage.
Positive Role Models
Young transgender male is portrayed with a strong sense of his identity and commitment to that identity. Over the three years covered, he develops courage, empathy, integrity, forgiveness, and a willingness to be patient with those who are slower to understand his commitment. Almost all of the parents of young transgender individuals are portrayed as admirable, loving, and supportive.
Violence & Scariness
Bennett reveals a history of "cutting."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The movie is about a young man's gender transition. No sexual activity.
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One use of "f--k"
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Products & Purchases
Incidental visuals of a few products: Tecate beer, Best Foods Mayonnaise, Jameson whiskey.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two main characters are recovering addicts. Conversations about substance abuse and sober living.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Real Boy is a documentary that spends three years with Bennett Wallace, a young man in the process of transitioning from female to male. First aired on the PBS Independent Lens series, the movie won multiple film festival awards prior to its digital release. Shaleece Haas, the filmmaker, focuses on Bennett, his mom, and those folks who make up his "community." It's a profoundly intimate film about discovery, growth, and acceptance. The movie spotlights two other young transgender men, and Suzy, Bennett's mom. Viewers can expect candid conversation from Bennett about his emotional, hormonal, and medical changes. He's extraordinarily open and engaging. Bennett reveals a history of "cutting" and substance abuse at a young age; another character struggles with addiction as well. Only one use of "f--k" mars an otherwise profanity-free movie. A timely film, made with respect and insight, it's recommended for families, especially those with mature teens. 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 insightful documentary, which provides a sympathetic portrait of a very young transgender man and his family, is a welcome addition to the conversation about an increasingly visible population. Real Boy is, above all, honest. Bennett Wallace's comments and feelings feel uncensored, as are his mom's. In fact, Suzy Reinke's emotional evolution provides some of the film's most poignant moments. Never exploitative, Bennett's story is simply told, the conflict coming from personal moments of truth and character that are relatable and real. There are no neat resolutions, especially for Joe Stevens, who remains admirable but vulnerable. The film deserves a wide audience, humanizing Bennett and others whose stories promote empathy and understanding.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies with LGBTQ+ Characters
TV Shows with LGBTQ+ Characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate