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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Sometimes it's hard to face deeply unpleasant truths, but pretending they don't exist doesn't make it so. Sam spends a good portion of the film hiding from a tragic incident in the recent past; he's only able to move forward with his life when he acknowledges what happened.
Positive Role Models
Sam, whose own son has died, becomes a reluctant father figure to Quentin and helps the shy young man become more confident. The relationship is initially built atop a significant deception-through-omission, but when the painful truth comes out, their connection becomes stronger.
Violence & Scariness
A man tries to kiss his employee while drunk; she rebuffs him, swatting him away. Two men get into a brief scuffle that leaves one with a black eye. The film revolves around an act of senseless violence that's never seen but often discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A shy young man flirts tentatively with a group of girls. Couples are shown kissing in the background at a party.
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Frequent swearing includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," and "balls."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
After a tragedy, the main character retreats from life and becomes a semi-functional alcoholic. He drinks, beer, whine, whisky, and plenty of other things and gets pretty drunk in several scenes. A few sequences also show people smoking pot.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rudderless takes place in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy (a college shooting), and the main character is in full retreat from the world. Once a successful executive, he's now living on a small boat, painting houses and drinking most days, trying to assuage the memory of his beloved son. He gets quite drunk on many occasions; some scenes also feature people smoking pot. Expect lots of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more) and some emotionally complex and heavy themes -- all of which make Rudderless best for older teens and up. 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 poignant film plucks from the headlines a tragic and all-too-painful story and explores what happens when parents experience the worst and have their hearts torn to bits. The actors are what make the film so watchable -- especially Crudup; Sam's grief is physically manifested in gestures as economical as a shrug. He's fantastic with Yelchin, who plays the boy who rescues Sam from his dense fog with empathy and companionship, especially in their musical interludes (both actors seem so comfortable with their guitars that they might as well be musicians). Crudup is also great with Felicity Huffman, who plays Sam's equally mournful ew-wife.
William H. Macy, who makes his directorial debut with Rudderless and has a cameo as a bar owner, keeps an easy but still fairly tight hold on the reins. But he doesn't paint a three-dimensional picture of Josh, whose death somewhat anchors the story. For that matter, Sam still feels amorphous: What kind of dad was he before that fateful day? What kind of mom was his wife? How can the audience care about who they've become after such profound loss if they don't know who they are as parents in the first place? But the story is still moving -- and sobering, too. And not so easy to forget.
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.