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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This is a true "message film": It's about those with PTSD accepting their affliction and seeking help. Considering the statistics involving suicides by veterans, this is an extremely worthy, important message. There are also examples of selflessness, courage, empathy, and heartfelt support, both in combat and at home.
Positive Role Models
Several soldiers behave selflessly and, despite their sometimes crude male-bonding behavior, show genuine caring for others. They also try to seek help for themselves. Family members are loving and supportive. VA workers, though hopelessly overwhelmed, do their best. The main character is heroic and personally strong, making his journey toward accepting the fact that he needs help more effective.
Violence & Scariness
Intense wartime violence, including graphic head injuries and gore. Non-graphic dogfighting followed by graphic dogfighting injuries. Domestic rage from a character who loses control. One character is shot at in a parking lot. A baby is dropped. Disturbing hallucinations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple has sex (non-graphic), but it goes terribly wrong. Brief, distant female rear and side nudity. Crude sex talk.
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Frequent strong language, including many versions of "f--k," plus "s--t," "p---y," "ass," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "f---ing Christ." Crude conversations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A fair amount of drinking. Prescription drugs and prescription drug abuse are discussed. Illicit drugs are discussed; Ecstasy is used but not shown being taken. Smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thank You for Your Service is a serious, mature drama starring Miles Teller about soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Expect to see both graphic wartime violence (including gory injuries) and frightening domestic rage. A character is shot. There's strong language throughout ("f--k," "s--t," and more), largely in the context of soldiers blowing off steam but also to express frustration and in the heat of explosive anger. There's some crude sex talk, as well as a non-graphic sex scene that goes terribly wrong because of a character's mental state. Characters drink throughout, and there's some smoking and drug use (both prescription and illegal). Characters also have disturbing hallucinations. Despite the movie's themes of courage and empathy, it's all about PTSD, and the emotional agony that pushes people to the brink of suicide or other destructive behavior is prevalent throughout, making it too intense for most young viewers. 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 is one of the more thoughtful, well-realized PTSD dramas you're going to see. It marks the directorial debut of writer Jason Hall, who wrote the excellent American Sniper -- which was also an effective PTSD drama that was miscast by some as a glorification of war (its director, Clint Eastwood, called it an anti-war film). Thank You for Your Service does include some combat scenes, but there's no "cool" factor in them. They're there to explain what "broke" these strong men, some of them decorated heroes. Thank You's concerns are squarely with returning veterans as they struggle to adjust, to accept they need help, and to get help before it's too late.
Hall's cinematic technique is admirably understated. The score, which is a non-orchestral one, is used subtly. The camera doesn't move unnecessarily. He skips unnecessary edits in favor of letting viewers see people react to each other and letting moments land. With very few exceptions, his script avoids mouthfuls of "message" dialogue while conveying important information, and he effectively captures male bonding. Hall is helped enormously by a very strong cast. Teller, who deserved an Oscar nomination for Whiplash, is totally believable as a rock-solid, selfless sergeant who has to accept that it's his turn to be saved. We buy him as a leader of men who's calm and collected on the outside while things are breaking inside. It's a fascinating contrast with his other recent film, Only the Brave: In that movie, though characters are less well-developed, Teller's crack addict-turned-firefighter reads as a totally different guy from his heroic soldier here. Their internal clocks tick differently. Big-screen newcomer Koale's work as a physically powerful soldier facing forced retirement from the service is simple and sympathetic. And Bennett, as Schumann's wife, conveys love and frustration. Twice, her reactions to shocking news (the depth of Schumann's emotional struggle and the height of the mountain to climb to get VA services) are affecting. Thank You for Your Service is likely too serious and realistic to strike box-office gold, but it's beautifully executed and feels truthful.
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