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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Helping others is an important message for children and teens to take seriously, but purposely endangering your life in the process isn't advisable.
Positive Role Models
On the one hand, Ben is incredibly altruistic and generous, but on the other, he's also depressed, obviously suffering from post-traumatic stress and mentally unstable. Also on the up side, the movie features a diverse cast.
Violence & Scariness
Disturbing glimpses of a fatal, multi-car accident are shown. A battered woman has a black eye. One character almost dies, and another character does die in a bizarre way. Ben needs a cast after smashing up his house.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple kisses/embraces, and another couple makes love -- thier bare backs and shoulders are visible.
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On the milder side for a PG-13 film, but still a couple of uses of "s--t," "hell," "ass," "goddamn," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Featured brands include Ford, Mercury Records, Kiehl's skincare products, and Travel Inn motel.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Ben and Emily drink wine at dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Will Smith + holidays usually equals blockbuster. But this drama's mysterious title and trailer may turn off younger fans who'd rather see a comedy or fantasy. And viewers in the mood for a feel-good story should look elsewhere: The movie tackles heavy themes like what it means to live a meaningful life, embracing death in the face of a terminal illness, and using grief as a motivation to act selflessly. The language and consumerism are mild, the violence is limited to (admittedly disturbing) scenes of two fatal incidents, and the sexuality is one love scene featuring a bare shoulders and backs. All of that said, the central message -- giving of yourself no matter what the cost -- may be too mature for young viewers to handle. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Smith usually comes through, but watching him mope around for two hours is neither believable nor inspiring. What begins as a suspense-filled drama devolves into a "very special episode" of Grey's Anatomy or ER (let's leave the spoilers at that). It's not that the cast doesn't act well, because Smith, Dawson, Woody Harrelson (a blind man Ben takes an interest in), Michael Ealy (Ben's brother), and Barry Pepper (Ben's best friend) are all talented performers. The story is the main problem -- instead of being powerful and thought-provoking, as director Gabriele Muccino aims, it's saccharine and phony.
Although Smith, a two-time Academy-Award nominee, is up to dramatic roles -- and it's understandable why he'd re-team with Muccino, his Pursuit of Happyness director -- he's built his superstardom on playing the hopeful hero. Ben is a hero, but he's so depressed (and depressing); fatalistic audiences may consider Smith miscast. Tortured and bereaved looks good on Sean Penn, Benico Del Toro, and Don Cheadle. But Smith? Not so much.
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.