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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Self-discovery is a journey that can involve courage, overcoming obstacles, and trial and error and lead to learning, improving, and interactions with others who may not share your views -- as well as learning to live with grief.
Positive Role Models
Robert Pyle gets credit for trying to break out of his comfort zone, summoning his courage to face something potentially dangerous, being open enough to learn from mistakes. But he's also presented as a comical, clownish figure from time to time, and the movie's handling of his mistakes as both slapstick and pathos sometimes creates frustration.
Violence & Scariness
Brief guns and shooting. Robert is threatened and beaten up by loggers. Moments of peril. Cancer and death are dealt with. Vomiting, diarrhea. Panicking, crying, screaming. Lancing blisters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character's naked butt seen. He also bathes in a waterfall and wears only underpants in several scenes.
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A possible "f--k" half-heard over sound of storm, plus infrequent use of "a--hole," "ass," "dumbass," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "crap," and an exasperated "God bless it!" Uses of "Jesus" and "God." Poop joke.
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Products & Purchases
Starbucks cup shown. Sierra Nevada beer shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character wakes with bottle, glass of brown liquor by bedside (suggesting hard drinking). Drinking beer around campfire; character passes out. Social drinking at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dark Divide is a biopic about butterfly expert and author Robert Pyle (David Cross) taking a 1995 journey into the Washington wilderness after his wife's death. It deals with death and cancer and has some strong moments of peril. A character gets beaten up, and there are moments of panic, crying, and screaming, as well as vomiting and diarrhea, and blisters being lanced. Language includes a possible use of "f--k" (barely heard over the sound of a storm), plus infrequent uses of "a--hole," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," and more. Pyle's naked bottom is shown, and he wears only underwear for several scenes. There's some social drinking and the suggestion of hard drinking; at one point, a character passes out. The movie has many moving moments and a clear message about the value of self-discovery, but it's also too inflated with slapstick, pop songs, flashbacks, and colorful side characters. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A good-looking wilderness trek that's likable enough for a few stretches, this biopic is, unfortunately, frequently stretched too thin, and Pyle's inexperience is often frustrating. Written and directed by Tom Putnam (of the unfortunate The Hottie and the Nottie) and based on Pyle's own book, The Dark Divide does a good job of balancing Thea's death and getting Pyle into the woods, but once he's there, it flounders. Pyle's amateur mistakes are played with a blurry sense of both slapstick humor and pathos, and it's difficult to know what to feel other than exasperation. When Pyle's pack tilts over and tumbles down a hill, your response may well be "how could you let that happen?"
Pyle's journey is also marked with several little montages (showing, for example, how he improves in crossing rivers and creeks), flashbacks, and far too many pop songs. Moreover, the movie is peppered with the expected encounters with several offbeat supporting characters (played by David Koechner, Gary Farmer, Kimberly Guerrero, Cameron Esposito, and others), but many of these scenes don't really connect. The Dark Divide works best when Cross is alone, making little discoveries and deepening his sense of self. (Cross is usually known for his acerbic screen persona, but here, he's quite touching.) It's too bad the movie as a whole couldn't have tapped further into these small moments of beauty.
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.