Sympathy for Delicious

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Sympathy for Delicious Movie Poster Image
Scattered drama about faith and poverty is intense.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie's main message is that salvation comes in many forms -- and though it might not always be welcome or recognized, given time it can prove to be the only way out.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Father Roselli comes from a place of kindness, but he goes about his mission in an exploitative way. Delicious D isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, but some of his actions are understandable despite how terrible they are. People exploit their spiritual gifts for financial gain. Some think it’s a necessary evil because they do so in the name of helping others, but others are much more brazen about it.


Lots of yelling and screaming fights. One homeless man beats up another. A man sears another man’s arms just to prove a point; another does the same. An important character dies in a very public -- and tragic -- way.


A woman seduces a man by lying on his bed and writhing around.


Frequent profanity includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking (mostly beer), and one character seems strung out much of the time.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this indie drama about a faith-healing paraplegic DJ (yes, you read that right) is quite intense, and is likely to overwhelm tweens and younger teens, even those who might be intrigued because it co-stars Orlando Bloom. Expect plenty of heavy (but also possibly thought-provoking) discussions about religion, economic strife, despair, helplessness, and poverty. There's also lots of swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), some violence (including scenes where a man burns people’s arms), and drinking.

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What's the story?

After an accident sentences him to life in a wheelchair, formerly successful DJ Dean "Delicious D" O’Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is living in his car on Los Angeles’ Skid Row and mourning his old life. Enraged, frustrated, and yearning for escape, he gets a taste of opportunity when bassist Ariel (Juliette Lewis) invites him to try out for her band, which is fronted by a tempestuous rocker known as The Stain (Orlando Bloom). But things get complicated when D discovers that his hands have a talent for something other than turntabling: He apparently has the ability to heal. Idealistic priest Joe Roselli (Mark Ruffalo) thinks D is the answer to Skid Row's misery, but D’s not that sure Father Roselli -- and everyone else, for that matter -- is actually as altruistic as he seems.

Is it any good?

Ruffalo's directorial debut is admirable in the sense that it confidently strides on screen. It’s no wimp, that’s for sure, and for that, you can be grateful. And Thornton, who also wrote the script, is fantastic as the ambivalent, angry D, wanting to have faith but not having any.

But to be frank, SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS is a rambling mess, mixing the absurd with the earnest in a way that's discomfiting rather than mind-blowing or remarkable. Watching a Skid Row DJ make it big and heal the sick with a less-than-selfless approach feels like gawking -- you’re at a remove and are wondering whether what you’re seeing is for real. Great performances aside (including Laura Linney as a vulture-like band manager), the movie borders on pretension -- a pity, given its interesting premise.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Would you consider it a religious and/or spiritual film? Why or why not? What is the film's perspective on religion?

  • Does this movie do justice to its difficult subject matter (i.e. the moral challenges a priest faces when needing to raise funds for his mission)? Who do you think it's intended to reach?

  • What is the movie saying about being selfish vs. selfless? Which characters fall into each category? Is it difficult to be selfless?

Movie details

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