The Forger

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Forger Movie Poster Image
Well-acted, low-key crime movie has violence, language.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A father wants to get closer to his dying teen son, but unfortunately that involves bringing the boy into a life of crime, drinking, and prostitutes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are criminals who get away scot-free.

Violence

Long fight between the main character and several men, seen from a distance. Baseball bat to the head. Tattoo needle to the forehead. Dead body, crushed by a barbell. Chase scene on foot. A boy has a seizure; his father races him to the hospital. Threats, general tension.

Sex

A dying 15-year-old dying wants to have sex. He's taken to a prostitute; they start getting undressed but are interrupted. He kisses his girlfriend.

Language

Several uses of "f--k," a few uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen is given beer to drink. A secondary character is said to be addict; she takes pills and is shown drinking. Scene of cigar smoking. An adult drinks a beer. A shipment of "H" (heroin) is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Forger is a mildly entertaining drama about a criminal who wants to spend time with his dying 15-year-old son. Expect brief spurts of violence -- notably a brutal fight with several thugs in a tattoo parlor. A dead body is shown, and a teen boy has an inoperable brain tumor; he has a seizure in one scene. He's taken to see a prostitute but is interrupted while undressing. Brief kissing. Language is infrequent but includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). A grandfather gives a beer to a teen boy, and a secondary character is a drug addict: she takes pills and drinks alcohol. Some background smoking and drinking. A shipment of "H" (heroin) is mentioned.

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What's the story?

Though he only has 10 months left on his prison term, Ray Cutter (John Travolta) asks a favor of underworld boss Keegan (Anson Mount) so he can get out immediately. The reason, it turns out, is that Ray's 15-year-old son, Will (Tye Sheridan), has an inoperable brain tumor, and Ray wants to spend time with him. But to pay back the favor, Keegan gives Ray the job of forging Monet's Woman with Parasol in just three weeks' time -- as well as the nearly impossible task of stealing the real one and replacing it with his copy. Meanwhile, Ray has promised Will "three wishes"; the boy asks to meet his mother, a junkie (Jennifer Ehle); to be intimate with a girl; and to help his father on the job.

Is it any good?

The plot is a little lackluster -- the climactic heist isn't very climactic -- but director Philip Martin creates a strong sense of place and a strong sense of community among the characters. Christopher Plummer is terrific as Ray's father, and Mount makes a refreshingly matter-of-fact gangster. The Forger isn't a great movie, and it's sometimes a bit too low-key, but it's appealingly sincere.

Travolta has been in quite a few bad movies, and he can be lazy or hammy in his performances, but as soon as he appears onscreen in THE FORGER, it's clear that, in playing Ray Cutter, he's found a place of restraint, tapping into some sort of interior pain and truth. (Sure, his highlighted hair and tiny beard are a little nutty, but they're just decoration.) Travolta also has a good bond with young Sheridan, who has had an exemplary career to date, with strong performances in The Tree of Life, Mud, and Joe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Forger's violence. How is it used? What impact does it have when it's shown? Is it shocking or thrilling?

  • How does the movie handle the concept of a dying 15-year-old? Does it focus on loss or on life?

  • How does the movie depict sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How can a family of criminals be the "good guys" in a story like this? What's appealing about them? Do they find redemption?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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