A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A person, no matter who they are or how troubled they might be, needs a purpose. Also, redemption comes in many forms. Empathy is a strong theme.
Positive Role Models
Genesis may struggle with mental illness, but he doesn't let it get in the way of his own search for meaning and a yearning to give to others. The kids in his chess club are also resilient, seeking a way out of a troubled life.
Violence & Scariness
A man is beaten with a pipe. Two men break into someone's home; the ringleader kicks the residents and scares a small child. A few scenes show a teenager with obvious bruises on his face, clearly post-beating. A man completely loses it in a van, destroying the windshield. Soon after, he storms into a party and nearly gets into a big fight with another guest. Other sequences have an overall menacing quality as Genesis battles both his inner demons and equally scary real-life ones who don't have his or his nephews' best interests at heart.
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Both kids and adults alike use "f--k," as well as "s--t" and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Young boys drink beer and smoke weed. A teenager is seen grabbing beers for his father and his father's friends, who appear to spend much of their time getting high and drunk around him.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Dark Horse is based on a true story that's rich with empathy and heart, though balanced by a harsh reality. Expect intense scenes that show a man battling with mental illness, poverty, and personal demons (both internal and external). It also features scenes of kids drinking and using drugs (weed), as well as many menacing moments as a teen boy is slowly inducted into biker-gang life (there are beatings and more). Also some swearing, including "f--k" and "s--t." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
If you want to see a great actor fully inhabit his role, then watch Curtis in this deeply moving film: He's its heart. Though it follows a similar trajectory as other inspiring biopics, The Dark Horse surprises by taking detours -- into both Genesis' childhood and his increasingly fraught relationships with his brother and his nephew, as well as his mental illness -- that not only enhance the storyline but deepen it to a level that renders the whole thing both hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking. They're unexpected but yet feel universal and true.
The chess is interesting, too: This intricate game rises above the station of mere storytelling prop, acting instead as both symbol and savior -- not just for the kids, but for Genesis himself.
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.