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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Bachelors is a dramedy about a father and his teen son recovering from the death of their wife/mother. It's quite touching, with themes of empathy, and it should be fine for high-schoolers and up. A teen girl cuts herself; some slicing/blood is shown. There's a brief cafeteria fight between two teen boys; one gets hit with a lunch tray. Teens briefly kiss, and there's some sex talk. Teen girls are objectified in one scene, emerging in slow motion from a bus (the term "muff truck" is used). Language includes a few uses of "s--t" and variations on "ass," plus several other words and insults. An adult takes mood-enhancing medication and drinks socially. Teens hold red cups at a party, though the contents aren't revealed.
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What's the story?
In THE BACHELORS, Bill Palet (J.K. Simmons) suddenly decides, following the death of his beloved wife, to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles with his teenage son, Wes (Josh Wiggins). There, Bill hopes for a fresh start at a prep school where an old college buddy is headmaster: Bill can be a teacher and Wes, a student. Sports are mandatory, so Wes goes out for cross-country, while Bill starts seeing a therapist (Harold Perrineau). Wes also has a French class in which his teacher, Carine (Julie Delpy), assigns him to tutor the troubled Lacey (Odeya Rush). Wes and Lacey begin a tentative, uneasy friendship, while Carine starts getting to know the lonesome, grieving Bill. Can these two bachelors learn to love again?
Is it any good?
While this tale could easily have tumbled over the edge in any direction, writer/director Kurt Voelker presents it as a balanced, nuanced, and gentle family story that becomes genuinely touching. The Bachelors could have been overly goopy or maudlin, dealing as it does with the death of a loved one, but it's brave enough to face grief in a real way. And the characters might have been one-dimensional, defined by their loss and presented as helpless, but they're not. They have realistic strengths and weaknesses.
The movie could also have been cutesy, with little musical montages and attempts at quirkiness, but even its motif of the car with the reverse-facing passenger seat seems to flow right along with the story. Credit must be given to the excellent cast, especially Simmons and Delpy, who soften the edges they've shown in other movies and play up appealing vulnerabilities. Wiggins and Rush are likewise very good, playing something close to human beings, rather than a movie's idea of "teenagers."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how female characters are treated in The Bachelors. Are women objectified? Is that behavior condoned?
How does the movie deal with death and grief? What does it say about the grieving process? Can other people help?
When violence is shown in the movie, is it gratuitous, or does it make sense with the story and characters? What's the difference?
How well do the father and son characters communicate with one another? Do they argue?
- In theaters: October 20, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2017
- Cast: Odeya Rush, J.K. Simmons, Julie Delpy, Josh Wiggins
- Director: Kurt Voelker
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: High School
- Character strengths: Empathy
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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