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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wish Man is a biography of the man who started the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His difficult childhood is shown in flashbacks, and themes of parental loss and death are shown. Violence is mostly brawl-type fights that show bloody noses, bruising, and limping, but there's one fairly explicit scene of a highway patrolman using excessive force, beating a handcuffed man in the head with a large flashlight. A sexual assault is implied by hearing screams and seeing loosened clothing. A fair sprinkling of "s--t," "damn," and "a--hole." Frank drinks during the day while on medical leave and smokes cigars. Several scenes take place in bars, and coffee tables in homes are strewn with beer cans and liquor bottles. Painkiller addiction is implied by rummaging through drawers until a pill bottle is found and mentioning usually taking a painkiller at a certain time of day. Pot smoking is mentioned. Some background smoking in bars is shown.
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What's the story?
WISH MAN tells the story of Arizona highway patrolman Frank Shankwitz (Andrew Steel), from his difficult childhood to his struggles with apathy and self pity after a bad motorcycle crash. While still on leave and under investigation for excessive use of force, Frank meets Michael, a young boy with a terminal illness who worships motorcycle police thanks to a popular TV show about them. Through getting to know Michael and making his dreams come true in the short time he has left, as well as his growing relationship with Kitty (Kirby Bliss Blanton), Frank learns what it's like to be special to someone else. More important, he manages to channel that feeling into an organization that's become one of the world's biggest, granting hundreds of thousands of wishes to kids with critical illnesses.
Is it any good?
This is a well-meaning and sentimental biopic that genuinely pulls at the heartstrings, eventually. But Wish Man is too long, often getting bogged down by extensive flashbacks and side stories that slow things down instead of enhancing the story. The acting's OK, but the script is a little amateurish, with dialogue that often seems forced or unrealistic. Viewers will learn positive messages about how valuable feeling like you matter to someone, knowing you can help, and having compassion are. Strong language, lots of alcohol, and mature themes make it best for teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Wish Man portrays Frank. Is he a good role model? What are his character strengths and weaknesses? What does he learn?
What about all the drinking, smoking, and painkillers? Is any of it glamorized? Is it realistic? How much is too much in movies, games, books?
Did you know about the Make a Wish Foundation before you saw this movie? What are some ways you can show compassion and give help when someone needs it?
- In theaters: June 7, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2019
- Cast: Andrew Steel, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Tom Sizemore
- Director: Theo Davies
- Studio: myCinema
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 12, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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