Parents' Guide to

When the Bough Breaks

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Likable characters can't save forgettable, violent thriller.

Movie PG-13 2016 107 minutes
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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (2):

Thrillers in which seemingly harmless outsiders worm their way into safe, secure, middle-class homes and then threaten them were popular in the '90s; this one feels like a pale copy. The good news is that stars Chestnut and Hall (who've also appeared together in The Best Man, Think Like a Man, and The Best Man Holiday) portray the Taylors as a likable couple worth rooting for. And Sinclair has an appealingly mesmerizing presence that sells her ultimate turn to evil.

But Rossi's Mike is an overcooked bad-guy boyfriend, and he signals the dumb, violent third act, in which nothing makes any sense. Attacks come from out of nowhere, and characters seem to be able to suddenly move across rooms without making any noise. By the time When the Bough Breaks' climax happens, it almost feels like the whole movie was just heading nowhere all along -- as if the marketing were more important than the storytelling. At least character actor Michael Kenneth Williams shows up.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 9, 2016
  • On DVD or streaming: December 27, 2016
  • Cast: Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Jaz Sinclair
  • Director: Jon Cassar
  • Inclusion Information: Black actors
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 107 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: violence, sexuality/partial nudity, thematic elements, some disturbing images, and language
  • Last updated: April 1, 2023

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