Right Footed

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Right Footed Movie Poster Image
Inspiring look at a life of young woman with a disability.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 82 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Clearly illustrates that, despite adversity, a positive outlook, great determination, and resourcefulness can lead to a productive, joy-filled life. Affirms that one person can make a difference in the lives of many. The film places great value on empathy, perseverance, acceptance of others, and committed parenting.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Central character, a young woman born without arms, is celebrated for her optimism, perseverance, strength, patience, courage, strong faith, and a desire to help others. She succeeds in pursuing activities in which able-bodied people may be challenged (i.e., black belt in Taekwondo, licensed airplane pilot, sky diver). Her parents and husband personify supportive family members. They offer her unconditional love, belief in her abilities, as well as practical everyday assistance. Only villains are Republican members of the U.S. Legislature who join forces to defeat US participation in The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty, a UN pact intended to protect disabled people worldwide.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

ERCO Ercoupe aircraft.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Right Footed is a documentary about Jessica Cox, a young woman born without arms who has had a significant impact as a role model, motivational speaker, and activist for people with disabilities. Winner of many U.S. Film Festival awards, the film is an eye-opening tribute to the power of determination, confidence, patience, and faith, despite long odds. As the film's audience journeys with Jessica to U.S. cities and other countries, they will meet other children and young adults with a variety of physical challenges. For mature tweens and teens, the movie offers a strong look at the obstacles facing those with disabilities, as well as the rewards and fulfillment that come from earning their successes. What may previously have been considered "strange" or even "scary" for those who've had little or no connection to anyone with such challenges, the movie is a significantly upbeat introduction. Recommended for family viewing as the movie may well inspire meaningful discussion. 

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What's the story?

An extraordinary life is chronicled in RIGHT FOOTED. Jessica Cox, born without arms, is the child of a loving family. Bill and Inez Cox are devoted to giving their middle child the support and love she needs to thrive despite her disability. And Jessica does thrive. After the initial anger and confusion, step by step and still at a young age, Jessica becomes independent, active, and confident. She undertakes all that able-bodied kids and teens undertake, and more. Using old photographs, home movies, and personal memories, as well as considerable footage of Jessica in recent years, Nick Spark has created a tribute to a life well-lived; and Jessica Cox is not yet thirty years old. Her determination to earn a black belt in Taekwondo, a pilot's license, and a place for herself amidst her peers are simply the earliest demonstrations of the courage that will later take her to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the disabled, to Ethiopia and the Philippines to inspire other kids, and to the heart of a warm, loving marriage to a man also committed to making a difference.

Is it any good?

How fortunate that the life of Jessica Cox was annotated and recorded, and that director Nick Spark had the passion and talent to bring it to life so that audiences can share her remarkable journey. The Cox family exhibited great foresight in their efforts to film important moments in Jessica's life: her early years of negativity, her first attempts at piloting a plane, her relationship with a remarkable mom, among many others. Then, worthy of commendation are the professionals who followed her blossoming romance with Patrick Chamberlain who would become her husband and partner in their life's work, and who covered her more recent path toward activism, particularly in Ethiopia, Washington, D.C., and the Philippines, where they highlight her considerable achievements in affecting the lives of others with disabilities. Nearly every scene is touched with compassion, sweetness, and admiration for Jessica's triumphs; the later scenes between Jessica and her mother are particularly affecting. A great introduction for the able-bodied to the world of those with disabilities, Right Footed is highly recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that documentary films are meant to entertain, inform, persuade, and/or inspire, sometimes in combination. What do you think the filmmakers intended with Right Footed? What was your strongest take-away from this movie?

  • How did Jessica deal with the setbacks she faced (i.e., her unsuccessful efforts to help pass the UN treaty Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the U.S. and her mother's serious illness)? How did her earlier experiences help prepare her for those difficulties?  Can you think of any instances in which adversity was a learning experience for you?

  • What important traits did Jessica exhibit that made her so accessible to kids with disabilities worldwide, even those kids who didn't share a culture or a language?

  • What is "universality?" What did you learn about universality in this movie? Were the kids with disabilities in foreign locales more like Jessica or more like the other kids in their communities?

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