A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Company You Keep stars Robert Redford, who also directed, as a once-radical fugitive who's wanted for a 1960s bank robbery that left a guard dead -- but who long ago went underground, changed his name, and left everything behind. Once the long-cold case again becomes national news, everything changes. Expect a fair bit of strong language (mostly "f--k" and "s--t"), plus plenty of fiery talk about revolutionary ideals, as well as a few scenes that feature people drinking beer. And one aging hippie now gets by smuggling large quantities of marijuana. The all-star supporting cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, and Julie Christie.
What's the story?
Jim Grant (Robert Redford, who also directed) is a single dad and public interest lawyer in upstate New York. He's also wanted for a bank robbery decades earlier that left a guard dead, back when he was a 1960s radical and a member of the Weather Underground. After the heist, Jim (who wasn't Jim then) and the rest of the gang went underground, changed their identities, and stayed hidden for years. But when one of them (Susan Sarandon) is finally captured, Jim's cover is blown, and he must find his old friends before the FBI catches up with him. Shia LaBeouf co-stars as an aggressive reporter hot on Jim's heels, trying to figure out what really happened at the bank so many years ago. The film boasts an all-star cast of supporting characters as aging radicals, including Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, and Sam Elliott.
Is it any good?
You won't be bored watching THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, which benefits from Redford's taut pacing and, well, his company. He may be one of the best understated actors in the business, and he has stuffed this drama with an ensemble of fine and finer thespians with a cupboard-full of award nominations and wins among them.
But by the time you reach the end of the film (which was based on Neil Gordon's novel), you may wonder why it bothered to entice you in the first place. The climax/ending is so unsatisfying, so thin, that it all seems like much ado over not very much at all. The movie's call for action -- for today's generation to examine its apathy or avarice -- is admirable, but if all our activism ends in a whimper, like this film does, what's the point? Watch it for the privilege of watching great actors do what they do best. That is all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why they think some of the fugitives in the film are willing to give up their comfortable lives and turn themselves in. Why did Jim choose to go underground?
How well does this film explain the radical politics of the 1960s and 1970s? How could you find out more if you wanted to?
Do you think you could ever leave your entire life, change your name, and stay hidden for decades?
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