A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that She Made Them Do It is a Lifetime movie about the true story of Sarah Jo Pender, a woman convicted of double murder who escaped from prison, was caught and returned, and proclaims her innocence to this day. It features multiple graphic reenactments of the murders, drug dealing, numerous scenes of implied intercourse, and mature themes and ultimately implies that Pender is a sociopath who orchestrated everything. There also is some minor profanity ("bitch," "damn") and smoking and drinking. Teens may be interested, since Jenna Dewan is the star.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sarah Jo Pender (Jenna Dewan) has been convicted of double murder but insists on her innocence. After exhausting her options for appeals, and with the help of a security guard, her present and former fellow inmates, her father, and an unlikely ally, she plots her escape while continuing to proclaim her innocence.
Is it any good?
SHE MADE THEM DO IT tries to have it both ways, and it ends up a muddled mess. Pender is a gifted manipulator of others who excels at playing victim; no, she's an innocent who got mixed up with the wrong crowd and made some bad choices.
Though movies like this make no attempt to educate or inform, they may do worse by deliberately misleading our understanding of the crimes committed where the victims' own innocence is in question. In news reports of the case, Pender was a secretary, not a drug dealer as the film depicts; the letter used to convict her was never found with her fingerprints, which is omitted in the film, and the crime scene never returned any of Pender's DNA, another fact left out in the movie. What's left, then, is a tawdry, sexed-up dramatization of a vixen who alternates between innocent and deviant; graphic reenactments of the murders in question; some Cinemax-style implied intercourse; and the lingering sense that justice likely will never be served here, nor will we gain much insight into the criminal mind. Not appropriate for young kids and, at best, a study in the sensationalist true-crime biopic for teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's portrayal of Sarah Jo Pender. Do the filmmakers depict as her a believable person? Why, or why not?
Can we count on movies such as this one to tell accurate accounts of the crimes they portray? Why, or why not?
Do you think crime dramatizations are helpful or harmful to society? Why? What about when the offenders' or victims' families are still alive? How could films such as this one be more helpful in understanding crime or helping those wrongfully imprisoned?
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