A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes includes overcoming unbelievable odds, protecting those you love, creating familial bonds with those around you, and the importance of believing in something. Encourages those of us who are safe and surrounded by family to have compassion toward refugees and immigrants fleeing horrifying circumstances.
Positive Role Models
The Sudanese boys form a tight-knit group that protects and looks out for each other. Young Theo saves Mamere and the other kids time and time again, to the point of sacrificing his own safety. Carrie grows to feel big sisterly toward the three Sudanese men, and Mamere eventually helps save his brother Theo the way Theo once saved him.
Violence & Scariness
Very harrowing scenes when the Southern Sudanese kids witness their village being burned and families killed; later, a few of the kids die/are killed on the long, arduous journey to the border refugee camp (starvation, exposure, etc.). Soldiers execute innocent villagers, including children.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One scene where it's clear that Carrie has just had sex with a guy she's not really dating but considers a "sex buddy" (nothing sensitive shown).
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Infrequent language includes "a--hole," "screw," "holy crap," "pissed off," "goddamn," and "bulls--t."
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Products & Purchases
Several brands featured, including Nike, IGA, Waffle House, Cheerios, McDonald's, Budweiser, Ford Explorer, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and V-Tech.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the Sudanese men is introduced to marijuana by his co-workers. He's shown smoking or high a few times. Carrie drinks on a few occasions and is shown drinking tequila with a friend.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Good Lie is a feel-good drama that centers on the Lost Boys of Sudan, young adults who as children in Africa survived unthinkable circumstances (terrible violence, 1,000-mile treks to refugee camps, and more) and in some cases were lucky enough to win lottery visas to the United States. Expect scenes of heartbreaking tragedy early in the movie: kids who die of starvation and exposure; soldiers who burn a village and kill everyone in it, orphaning the main characters; an older brother who sacrifices himself to save younger siblings and friends. The movie (which stars Reese Witherspoon and shares an executive producer with The Blind Side) also doesn't shy away from showing just how lonely, difficult, and sad it can be to move somewhere new where you're safe but don't understand the culture. There's also some swearing, drinking, drug use (marijuana), and a scene of implied sex (nothing graphic shown). All of that said, despite the upsetting moments, The Good Lie is also hopeful and educational and will encourage audiences to do their part to help war refugees. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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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