Parents' Guide to

The Good Lie

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Heartbreaking but hopeful drama about Sudanese Lost Boys.

Movie PG-13 2014 110 minutes
The Good Lie Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 13+

Fictionalized story handles a serious topic well

I like this movie and my mature 12 year old was disappointed to stop watching it because it was bedtime. I was looking for something rare - a movie about a serious global issue that does justice to the issue while still being something teens might choose to watch. I love documentaries, but many teens don't, so I really wanted a fictionalized story to engage them. The first 30-45 minutes of this movie are set in Sudan and include many examples of war destroying the lives of the children and teens who star in the movie. These scenes are not graphic (no blood, no closeups of shooting) but they are frank. For instance, in the opening scene, you see soldiers arriving and hear shooting, then see all the parents and people in the village dead. Later, you see a large refugee group diverge at a river, possibly hear faint shooting off screen and soon see the bodies of the people who went one direction float down the river. The children form their own group, led by a young teen who demonstrates amazing leadership and sacrifice. It is hard (and humbling) to watch the children suffer loss, thirst, hunger, and a long uncertain walk to safety, but part of the movie's strength is its ability to get viewers to care about the characters in this situation. Also, these migration scenes are so emotional because the viewer also feels the strength, solidarity and responsibility shown by the children and teens. After about 45 minutes, the movie jumps ahead in time and focuses on the now-young adults winning a visa lottery and settling in America. I found the movie heartbreaking, uplifting, emotional, humbling, sometimes funny, and interesting. Just make sure your teens can handle scenes of wartime and death, and can take in the duality of a horrible situation that leads characters to demonstrate impressive leadership and selflessness.
age 11+

EMOTIONS

I DONT KNOW WHAT IM FEELING RIGHT NOW? IM A LITTLE BIT SAD ABOUT HOW THEY LOVED EACH OTHER AND I CANT IMAGINE HOW MAMERE GIVE HIS OWN PAPERS TO HIS BROTHER TO GO IN THE US TO SHOW HIS LOVE FROM HIM ... I DONT KNOW BUT THIS MOVIE IS VERY FULL OF EMOTION AND BEST MOVIE EVER I WATCHED

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Judging by the marketing materials, it would be easy to dismiss The Good Lie as one of those borderline-offensive chronicles of how a charming white person rescued suffering people of color. But that's not at all how this touching drama plays out -- the movie really does follow the Sudanese characters and doesn't turn the story into the Reese Witherspoon show. A star vehicle this is not. Most of the actors who play the four Sudanese refugees (both as children and adults) actually are Sudanese, and in many cases are either the children of or themselves former war survivors and child soldiers.

Director Philippe Falardeau effectively captures the horror of the characters' orphaned childhood experiences escaping Sudan and then the awe and anxiety of their move to the United States. But he and screenwriter Margaret Nagle don't dwell too long on the historical context of the war they escaped; instead, they explore the myriad ways that so much loss can strip a person down to essential needs -- the overwhelming one being a sense of family. The three men all find jobs in Kansas, but what really fuels them is their need to be with their sister (by blood or of the heart) Abital (Kuol Wiel) again. They are their own tribe, their own family, and in this country where the individual is king, recreating that family is what matters most. Witherspoon and Corey Stoll, who plays her boss, do a fine job showing how they're transformed by knowing these fragile but unbroken young men. Ultimately this is the sincere, uplifting story of Sudanese transplants who've experienced so much trauma but manage to still hold on to faith, family, friendship, and hope.

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