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He Said, She Said Review Site
Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy

What She said:


I'm not sure there is ever a good time to produce a movie about the parents of the perpetrator of a mass school shooting.  Unfortunately, it seems these shootings are happening almost every week now, and so it's always a sensitive topic.  That said, Beautiful Boy attempts to capture the horror, guilt, and confusion that the family of these teenaged killers must go through. The movie doesn't really try to take a side--it knows that this type of violence is wrong--but it attempts to expose you to the emotions that a parent must go through.

The movie stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello as the parents of Sammy, a troubled college freshman who gets involved in a campus mass shooting and then kills himself. The parents, while loving, have not been the most attentive with Sammy, and so they're shocked to learn he could commit such a heinous crime.  They seem a bit too caught up in their own drama, including their crumbling marriage.  In fact, they were just about to separate when the shooting occured.  Needless to say, their lives are rocked by the event.  There is longer such thing as normal, and they have no idea how to cope.  It's hard enough dealing with the suicide of a child, but adding to that the additional lives that were lost becomes unbearable. 

Beautiful Boy

The movie shows the many angles of what the parents must deal with.  They are quickly singled out as being indirectly responsible; afterall it was their son who did it.  Couldn't they have known and stopped him?  These thoughts come from both the public and from the parents themselves.  As the media hounds them, they are forced to go stay with her brother, played by Alan Tudyk, and his wife.  They have a young child who is still in those ever important formative years.  This add some strain for Sammy's parents as they wonder if there's more they could have done. In the mean time, there's still the issue of their failing marriage to contend with, and each parent seems to be confronting things in a completely different way.

So, despite the controversial topic, or maybe because of it, Beautiful Boy was actually pretty interesting.  Granted, for some reason there were moments that it felt very much like a Lifetime movie, but it brought up some valid points to consider.  There were some obvious lapses in the writing, and I don't think the movie tries hard enough to explain Sammy's true motivations.  Maybe it just didn't want to get hung up on that, but I think knowing more about Sammy would have helped.  We don't even know where he got the guns from, which can be irksome.  You do have to wonder where Sammy gets it from.  He seems so different from both of his parents.  Anyway, the movie is absolutely no frills when it comes to the cinematography and those types of details.  It has a little of that B-movie production value.  But the essence of this film is the crucial and timely issues that it brings front and center.  It is effective in making the viewer think a little.

Thumbs half up.