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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Walter's behavior is both sad and appalling, and yet it's presented as both funny and entertaining for a large portion of the story, and many characters begin to accept his behavior based on its entertainment value alone. But it's a drastic means to an end, and Walter does eventually begin to work on the root of his problem. Meanwhile, his teen son also has some issues; he does pay for his transgressions (i.e. writing and selling black market papers for his fellow high school students), but everything seems to be solved by meeting the right girl.
Positive Role Models
Walter may get a few laughs here and there, but his behavior is sad and appalling. Teen son Porter is smart, but he worries that he's too much like his father and that he's begun to head down the wrong path. Both characters eventually straighten out, but it takes a drastic event in one case, and falling in love in the other case, neither of which is particularly empowering.
Violence & Scariness
Characters argue from time to time, and there's a general mood of unease. A teen boy bashes his head against a wall in moments of despair. A couple of brief fight scenes: one in which a father accidentally hits his teen son, and one in which the main character fights with the beaver (i.e. himself), resulting in blood and bruises. The movie leads up to one intense scene, with some off-screen gore.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A husband and wife kiss and have sex in bed (nothing graphic is shown). Oral sex is implied, and the couple is also seen kissing through an opaque shower door. A teen couple flirts and kisses.
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Language includes one "f--k" and several uses of "s--t," plus "goddamn," "hell," "douche," "turd," "balls," "ass," "crap," "bitch," and "Christ." Additionally the beaver uses British slang like "bloody hell," "bum," "sod," and "tart."
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Products & Purchases
Some Apple computers are on display.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character takes prescription drugs for his depression. In one scene, he gets falling-down drunk and tries to commit suicide. The mother is seen drinking wine with dinner. One teen character mentions buying "weed." There's a mention of "nicotine gum."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie about a troubled family (which stars Mel Gibson and was directed by Jodie Foster) is a very strange drama with some comedy elements; it's disturbing in many ways, and while some will find it appalling, others may find it inspiring. A despondent character attempts suicide, and there's a constant, simmering sense of discontent, as well as some moments of fighting and violence. Language includes "s--t," one "f--k," and other words; there's also some teen flirting and minor sex scenes between a husband and a wife. There's one intense scene of drinking, plus prescription drugs and a mention of a teen buying "weed." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Foster's third movie as a director is nothing if not brave, though what exactly it wants to say and whether it finds the right tone are up for debate. The idea of Gibson -- who, in recent years, has come across in the media as more than a little nutty -- playing a serious character with a talking hand puppet could have been either appealingly outrageous or totally disastrous. But instead the movie comes across as rather safe and sober, with misplaced attempts at humor.
Other characters' reactions to Walter's problem are troublesome, and the media phenomenon behind a successful toy woodcarving kit -- conjured up by the beaver -- rings both totally false and somewhat naive. Oddly, the subplot about Walter's teen son and his quirky relationship with a sad valedictorian is far more compelling than the showier, creepier "beaver" section of the story. Overall, the movie feels like an unbalanced misfire.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.