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What's the story?
TEX follows the story of two brothers who have to take care of themselves and each other while their father is off with the rodeo. Mason (Jim Metzler) is a senior, a basketball star, dedicated and responsible. Tex (Matt Dillon) is fifteen, unsure of himself, not yet ready to focus on the problems they face. His horse, Rowdy, is the center of his world. As the movie begins, they are out of money, so Mason sells their horses. Tex is furious and gets drunk and into some trouble with juvenile authorities. Mason is under so much pressure that he develops an ulcer. Pop eventually returns and promises he will stay, but Tex remains angry and bitter and continues to get in trouble as Mason tries to improve his own situation. When Mason finally gets accepted to college, Tex comes to his senses and urges Mason to go, knowing that it is best for Mason, and that he can take care of himself.
Is it any good?
The only one of the popular S.E. Hinton books to be filmed by Disney, this is a bit glossier than the Francis Ford Coppola-directed The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, but still a frank and gritty story. Tex has tougher problems than most kids, but his impulsive approach to dealing with them will seem familiar to many viewers. Tex and Mason are constantly exposed to the consequences of bad choices made by others.
The issue of responsibility is also an important one here. Mason takes on the responsibility of the household, putting enormous pressure on himself. But in "over-parenting," he keeps too much from Tex, and it is only when Tex has to take some responsibility himself that he can begin to think of other people. Sexual involvement by teenagers is an issue as well. Mason's advice to Tex (that a boy should keep going until the girl tells him to stop) is worth discussing with both boys and girls. So is Jamie's ability to make it very clear to Tex that she is not ready to have sex with him.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Cole and Pop have opposite reactions to the trouble Johnny and Tex get into. Is one more effective? How would you respond? Why didn't Mason apologize for selling the horses? Why did Tex take over when Johnny didn't jump his motorbike over the creek? Pop tells Mason to go ahead and explode and clear the air. What do you think about this approach to communication? Why did Johnny say it was all right for him to criticize his father, but he didn't want Tex to do it?
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