A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The World We Make is a sensitive look at those high-pressure last years of high school and early years of college when older teens face difficult choices about the future. Internalized racism among seemingly enlightened people is explored to some degree as a biracial teen couple try to work things out. Teens here also deal with loss, grief, disappointment, racism, and the reality of flawed adults who, facing their own demons, fail to offer adequate support and encouragement. A fatal car accident is briefly flashed and thugs beat an innocent victim. Responsibility is beautifully modeled here by mature teens. Teens kiss.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE WORLD WE MAKE is the story of two idealistic teenagers who want the world to be a better place than it is. Lee (Rose Reid) is a white high school senior who hasn’t decided what she wants to do after she graduates. Her older brother Casey (Richard Kohnke) had opted out of college to run the family horse farm, training horses, teaching kids to ride, and using the horses for therapy, but an accident leaves Lee, her dad (Kevin Sizemore), younger brother Logan (Gunnar Sizemore), and Casey’s best friend Jordan (Caleb Castille) bereft. Lee decides to go alone on the cross-country horse ride she had planned to take with Casey over the summer and continues to train for it. Jordan, whose mom deserted him when he was young, tries to help Lee and her family grieve their loss and, in the process, becomes Lee’s boyfriend, knowing he's heading to a full football scholarship across the country at a California college only a few months away. As a young black man, Jordan explains the racism he and Lee face as a mixed-race couple. He's followed while shopping at a convenience store. They're stared at in restaurants and on the street. Lee is warned by friends that by dating Jordan, she's taking on more than she can handle. After Jordan is attacked by jealous white guys, Jordan’s father, Thomas (Gregory Alan Williams), warns that Lee will break his heart one day. This conflict ends the relationship. When both Lee and Jordan are forced to give up their dreams, they help each other create new ones.
Is it any good?
This is a touching if somewhat oversimplified look at racism, growing up, and the harsh realities of adulthood. Like a made-for-TV movie, The World We Make presupposes a world without many subtleties, so problems are one-dimensional and solutions are more elementary than they might be in real life. When someone suggests a black young man will be good at basketball just because he’s black, he points out the stereotype, and this substitutes for a real exploration of racism.
On the plus side, teens here model mature behavior, work hard, take responsibility for their actions, and hold themselves accountable, which is more than refreshing. There are no curse words, drug problems, or irresponsible acts. The two lead teenagers, in fact, have good reason to scold their dads for being less-than-responsible parents. Jordan cooks dinner for his dad. Lee takes care of her little brother, badly neglected by their grieving father. And as each of them make tough choices based on obstacles they face, tear-jerking moments reliably result. There's much more to be said on a far deeper level about biracial relationships and the grieving process than is said here, but this isn’t a terrible start.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The World We Make addresses racism. What do you think about the way that the main characters handle the challenges caused by their biracial relationship?
How important is it to have dreams? When the dreams of the main characters fall through, how well do you think they recover from the disappointment?
How much of a role do you think luck plays in our lives, like the luck of being born into poverty or wealth, or to supportive versus uncaring parents? If you are born unlucky, do you think it's possible to change your fate?
- In theaters: July 27, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: June 4, 2019
- Cast: Caleb Castille, Rose Reid, Kevin Sizemore, Gregory Alan Williams, Richard Kohnke, Gunnar Sizemore
- Director: Brian Bough
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for thematic material and brief violence
- Last updated: September 26, 2019
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