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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
People deserve kind and equal treatment. "Normal" and "different" are loaded terms. It's important to play by the rules. Try hard and go for your dreams, despite obstacles that may arise. A challenge is an opportunity to believe. Knowing a second language has benefits.
Positive Role Models
Tyson displays courage and perseverance in attending high school, despite getting bullied and teased, and in training for the marathon. His mother is his stalwart supporter. His dad seems embarrassed or annoyed by Tyson, but he learns to appreciate and care for him and to make his family a priority. Aklilu is humble, helpful, and generous. The mayor is disparaging of Tyson.
Main character is on the autism spectrum. Secondary characters are Black and Latino. The Spanish teacher talks about the benefits of knowing a second language. Aklilu is from Somalia and sends money back to his family and village but says he struggles with English. A 42-year-old woman finds out she's pregnant and considers her "options." People attend church and the film ends with a quote from the Bible.
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Violence & Scariness
Bullying at the high school, including knocking a chair out from under someone so he falls to the floor. Tyson runs away, is nearly hit by a car, and, in a scary nighttime scene during a thunderstorm, nearly drowns. A man is bitten by a rattlesnake. There's recognition of the issue of concussions in football. A high schooler tries to look up a teacher's skirt by placing a mirror on the floor.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tyson wonders if a female friend is a girlfriend, and he asks other men about kissing girls. His female friend kisses him on the cheek.
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"Retard" and "mentally handicapped," as well as "suck," "dammit," "butt," "jerk," "fricking."
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Products & Purchases
Microsoft, Powerade, Dodge, Honda, Adidas.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man drinks a "generous" pour of alcohol at a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tyson's Run is a sentimental, true story-inspired tale of a boy with autism who decides to compete in a marathon. In doing so, he demonstrates courage and perseverance, and his parents learn to better support him. His dad in particular learns to value his son and put his family first. But Tyson also experiences bullying from high school classmates, and he runs away from his troubles more than once. On one such occasion, he's almost hit by a car. On another, he nearly drowns during a flash thunderstorm. The latter scene could prove frightening for younger viewers, and also includes a man getting bitten by a rattlesnake. The cast is diverse, including a marathon runner from Somalia who becomes Tyson's friend and trainer. People attend church, and the film ends with a quote from the Bible. More than one character teases or is disparaging toward Tyson for his autism, and people use derogatory terms like "retard" and "mentally handicapped." Other language includes "suck," "dammit," "butt," "jerk," and "fricking." A high schooler tries to look up a teacher's skirt by placing a mirror on the floor. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This film has the look and feel of a TV movie, and Major Dodson's heartfelt portrayal of a teen with autism is nearly undermined by other, less subtle performances, themes, and concepts. But ultimately Tyson's Run has enough heart and an uplifting story "inspired by a real boy" to balance out and offer a film that may speak especially to those with friends or family members on the spectrum. Some fancy camerawork at the start of the movie (shot from inside a computer screen or football helmet) is mostly abandoned later and doesn't match the rest of the by-the-books filming.
The cast is a bit uneven here too, unfortunately. Abdi deserves more screen time, and his Aklilu comes across as both world weary and wisely optimistic. Smart and Cochrane overly dramatize their performances as Tyson's panicky mom and unhappy dad (Cochrane might not smile once this whole film). But Dodson, billed as "on the spectrum" himself, puts in an affecting performance that gives viewers a character and journey to root for. This, in turn, makes the film's climactic ending moving despite its improbability.
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.