A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The truth will eventually come out, no matter how hard people try to hide things; the bigger the deception, the more likely it is to be revealed. In the end, cheaters don't come out ahead.
Positive Role Models
The movie portrays Armstrong as someone who will do anything to win, including taking banned drugs and lying about it. As depicted here, his entire career is based on a false image, and he lies to everyone around him -- except those who are in on it with him, who have to lie as well. Even when confronted with proof of his deception, he tries to maintain his innocence, until finally he can't hide it any more.
Violence & Scariness
A few sequences show harrowing bicycle crashes at high speed. Some yelling/heated arguments.
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Language includes "s--t" and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Armstrong's team sponsors, Morotola and U.S. Postal Service, are named and shown frequently. Other sponsors' logos are also shown, including American Airlines.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social drinking at meals and pubs. The bulk of the movie is about bicycle racers taking performance-enhancing drugs; many scenes show them taking shots or getting IV treatments, and even more show them lying about it and planning how to hide it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Program is a biopic about once-acclaimed bicycle racer Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster). The movie follows the trajectory of Armstrong's career as he wins the grueling Tour de France an unprecedented seven times -- all the while, it turns out, depending on performance-enhancing drugs. Many scenes show Armstrong and his fellow athletes getting shots and taking IV drugs to boost their riding abilities, but in the end the message is that the truth will eventually come out, and cheaters don't come out ahead. Expect some social drinking and strong language (mostly "s--t" and "f--k"). If parents watch with their teens, the movie could serve as an entry point to discuss the consequences of drug use. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Lance Armstrong story is one of epic betrayal and disappointment -- great fodder for a searing biopic, you'd think; but The Program feels surprisingly inert, despite its stellar lead actor. The film treats all of the story's highs and lows as if there are no peaks and valleys, only a straight line, robbing it of suspense and emotion. Some of this could be attributed to the fact that so many of us already know what happened to Armstrong, but plenty other public figures have seen their lives unfurl onscreen to dramatic success.
Foster is the highlight of the film and the main reason to see it. But even he can't overcome the movie's inability to crack Armstrong's surface. In the end, we still don't understand why he did what he did, even if we get plenty of details on how. And that's a huge disappointment.
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.