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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Encourages caution when accepting extreme generosity -- just because you feel in someone's debt doesn't mean you should break your moral or ethical code to help them. Shows how money, power, and influence don't translate into happiness, friendship, or fulfillment. Stresses that just because you're a philanthropist, that doesn't make you a good person; it just means you have money to give and know how to give it.
Positive Role Models
Luke is observant, intelligent, and loving. Although he agrees to take a recreational drug with Franny, he refuses to write him an illegal prescription for an addictive painkiller, and he recommends Franny get help. Olivia is sweet and smart and wants to help Franny but doesn't want him in her family's life if he continues his bullying and unhealthy ways.
Violence & Scariness
Fatal car accident at the beginning of the movie; an injured character holds dying, bloody (and then dead) bodies that are visible as he sobs. An injured man stares at his scars more than once. A man grabs another man roughly but doesn't actually hit him.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple embraces and kisses; a man discusses how much he loved a woman. Women at a gentlemen's club are dressed sexily and are shown dancing for men.
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Many uses of "f---k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "p---y," "a--hole," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Franny is addicted to painkillers and drinks a lot; he usually mixes liquor and painkillers. He also takes Ecstasy in one scene and smokes cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Benefactor is a psychological drama about a rich, painkiller-addicted philanthropist (Richard Gere) who has a close but dysfunctional friendship with a young married couple he's taken under his wing. The mature content includes frequent substance use/abuse, including three friends sharing a joint while driving, an older man drinking until drunkenness, two men taking Ecstasy, a man abusing a controlled opiate for which he no longer has a prescription, and adults smoking cigarettes. In addition to substance use, there's frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "ass," "p---y," "a--hole," etc.) and a scene in which it seems like a man is going to proposition another man for a sexual favor (but instead it's for an illegal prescription). The movie could prompt conversations about nepotism and when it's wiser not to accept others' generosity because there might be invisible strings attached. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Gere is a master at playing wealthy, entitled men, but his over-the-top portrayal crosses the line into cringe-worthy in this drama that initially shows promise but ultimately doesn't deliver. Franny is a compelling character, but he doesn't add up. Despite his aggressive alpha-male charm, he seems to have had only two friends (Olivia's parents) his entire adult life. He's got underlings, employees, and recipients of his largesse, but no friends? And when "Poodles" -- a nickname that's utterly as ridiculous and infantilizing as it sounds -- calls him, all of a sudden he's back in action, ready to swoop in and pay off Luke's debts, buy them Olivia's childhood home, and make Luke the heir apparent to the hospital, even though the proud young doctor is at once grateful for and uncomfortable with so much generosity.
Since Olivia/Poodles is in her third trimester, she's relegated to lounging around for most of the film, giving Fanning, a fine young actress, virtually nothing to do. So it's James, best known as love interest Four in the Divergent movies, who gets to play the nuance against Gere's bro-hugger. Franny fixates on Luke in an almost psychosexual way -- so much so that at one point he literally walks in as Luke's changing out of a tuxedo, and the shot shows Franny's face inches from Luke's boxers. But it's not that kind of favor Franny wants, it's another prescription for morphine. So instead of a story about a manipulative master of the universe with no friends but deep pockets and loads of charities, writer-director Andrew Renzi's drama devolves into just another addiction tale. As a character study, there needed to be more of a back story than Franny's guilt, and as an addiction story, it just isn't very interesting. At the very least it proved that James deserves more dramatic work.
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.