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The Best of Me | 2014 | PG-13 | - 5.6.5

A man (James Marsden) and a woman (Michelle Monaghan) meet and fall in love in high school (their younger versions are played by Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato) but separate because of her wealthy, disapproving parents and his criminal, drug-dealing family. Twenty years later they meet unexpectedly in their old hometown for the funeral of an old friend but before their love can be rekindled they have to deal with more complications. Also with Gerald McRaney, Caroline Goodall and Sean Bridgers. Directed by Michael Hoffman. [1:58]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A man and a woman see each other after 20 years and realize that they are still in love, but she is married; in once scene, she kisses the man and he returns the kiss for several seconds, but she walks away until the next night when they have sex in his bedroom and we see her legs wrapped around his back (he is wearing jeans and a T-shirt); then we see close-ups of their heads and bare shoulders as they kiss slowly and breathe heavily and the scene ends. A teen boy walks out of his bathroom with a large towel wrapped below his exposed navel, revealing his arms and chest and finds his girlfriend on his bed, wrapped in a red blanket (we see her bare shoulders, knees and forearms); in a close-up, we see their heads and bare shoulders as they begin to have sex and see him thrusting slightly as the scene ends and we see the girl in the morning standing on the porch in a long robe that reveals some cleavage at the neckline.
 In two scenes, a man and a woman wear T-shirts and shorts, run and jump into a lake, come up and kiss; in the second scenes, we see the breasts and nipples of the woman through the shirt as she lies on her back and floats. A woman wears a long-sleeved shirt open to reveal some cleavage along with panties that reveal her full bare thighs and legs. A female character as a teen and an adult wears several dresses with large cutouts in the back, revealing a slight amount of cleavage in the neckline; in one scene, she wears very tight, long spandex pants that emphasize her buttocks. Around a swimming pool teen girls wear bikinis that show some cleavage, abdomens and full bare thighs and legs; teen boys are seen shirtless.
 In a dozen scenes, a teen boy and a teen girl kiss for several seconds in a close embrace. A teen boy and a teen girl dance closely in the home of a friend and kiss briefly, and in a flash forward as adults. Inside an old shack, a middle-aged man briefly kisses a younger woman sitting in his lap. A teen girl tells a teen boy that he does not know how to flirt and he agrees, but they make a date and gradually fall in love; we hear each one say, "I love you."
 A teenage girl is pregnant in her senior year of high school and her belly is seen to be large and swollen in her long prom dress. A teenage girl tells a friend that they are excited about the baby and their parents are helping them.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - When a young man discovers an injured older man, he jumps into a pickup with another young man and a rifle and confronts his father at a shack; after a fistfight and a struggle with the rifle, the rifle discharges, accidentally shooting the other young man between the eyes (we see dripping blood and he falls on his face with open eyes as the other young man cries over his body). A pickup truck tailgates another pickup truck, passes it and speeds through a railroad crossing as its safety gates are lowering until the second truck reappears behind the first truck, pushes it toward a passing freight train and a passenger in the second truck fires a gun at the head of the driver of the first truck who ducks as the glass shatters behind his head; the occupants of the second truck approach the first truck and the driver uses a crow bar to break the leg of one man, he stands up and smashes the back of the other man's head (the man with the injured leg screams constantly) and an older man standing across the railroad crossing shoots the driver of the first truck in the shoulder and the shot man lies on the pavement with a large spot of blood on his shoulder and dies.
 Several men in a large pickup truck drive to another man's home, exit the vehicle and demand that a their teen brother return home to deliver illegal drugs; the teen hurries his girlfriend away and she shouts in protest as one man (the teen's father) punches the boy and the man who owns the house walks out with a rifle and begins shooting; he shoots out the criminal's windshield, side mirrors and headlights before shooting a flower out of a man's hand. Several men in a pickup truck ambush a man and beat him in the face, leaving him bloody and then choke him and make him watch as they drive through all his flowerbeds.
 A teen boy leaves his father's dilapidated shack after his father beats him up with several punches to the eye, blackening the eye and cheek; the boy fights back and runs away and sleeps in a mechanic's garage; the mechanic finds him in the morning, nudges him with a rifle and gives him a place to live.
 An oil rig fails one night and it begins shaking loudly as if an earthquake is happening, and then a large spout of oil springs up and knocks metal pipes off a tower; men fall to the deck and the rig erupts in flames as one man catches fire, running until another man wraps him in a blanket to extinguish the flames; the second man carries an unconscious man to safety and then falls into the water, where he floats and has a vision of his high school girlfriend; the camera cuts to a hospital bed, where the man sits, ready for release and a doctor tell him it is a miracle that he survived because he was underwater for four hours, but he is perfectly fine.
 A woman receives a call and rushes to a hospital where she finds her teen son in a dimmed room with his face severely bruised and many machines and IV lines hooked to his arms and chest; a surgeon explains that he was thrown out of a car in an accident and a major heart valve and surrounding tissue suffered a severe rip and he needs a heart transplant.
 A woman says that her 2-year-old daughter died of leukemia and she and her husband both began drinking heavily, and she stopped but her husband continued drinking. A man and a woman in different locations receive calls to a funeral and we see a short graveside service in which men and women are tearful. Two scenes show brief graveside services for two men, one as a teenager and the other as an adult. An older man says that his wife died recently from a stroke. After a man dies, a man and a woman try to scatter his ashes at a cabin he owned with his wife, but they spill the container, then pick up handfuls of ashes and throw them in the air. A teen boy shows his girlfriend scars that resulted from his father's physical abuse; we see scars on an arm, shoulder, pectoral area and a long scar on his back. A woman hears that a man is dead and wails and cries violently while sitting on her staircase; the camera cuts to a casket in a cemetery as she places flowers on top of it.
 A woman attempts to speak with her husband, but he belittles her, snickers, leaves the house and drives away as he drinks from a flask of alcohol (please see the Substance Use category for more details). A wealthy businessman and his wife argue repeatedly over his drinking and continual absence from the family at golf games and bars (please see the Substance Use category for more details). A woman argues with a man because her husband is a drunk, she never finished college and her young daughter died. A man takes his high-school-aged nephew away from their crime family when an argument ensues with the first man's father, but the nephew and his uncle leave successfully. A wealthy man displays a large stuffed grizzly bear and a tall cigar store Indian in his collectible car barn and the man offers a teen boy $80,000 for college if he stays away from his daughter; the boy says, "Shove it up your [anatomical term deleted]." A man tells a teen couple that he was blown off a destroyer deck at sea by a Japanese torpedo and that while he was in the water he sang a show tune and felt calm.
 A teen boy comes from a notorious rural crime family; outside a house two brothers with many tattoos and long stringy hair shoot pistols in the air for fun, causing pit bulls to howl and bark.
 A teen boy receives a sentence of eight years for his involvement in his family's illegal drug business and manslaughter; he sends his girlfriend away and refuses to see her in prison and she cries and becomes very angry.


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LANGUAGE 5 - About 2 F-words and derivatives, 1 obscene hand gesture, 6 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 5 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, idiot, jackass, stupid, slow learner, punk, ridiculous, killer, old man), stereotypical references to men, women, rural residents, widowers, drug dealers, the rich, the poor, heroes. exclamations (shut-up), 5 religious profanities (GD, I Swear To God), 7 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh God, God, Jesus, Honest To God, God Help Me).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A family of a father and three brothers raises and distributes an unnamed drug related plant, and a squad of armed DEA officers raid a property and arrest three men at gunpoint and lead them away in handcuffs (we never see any drugs). A man drinks bourbon and Scotch continually at home and at his golf club, in every scene in which he appears, a man's kitchen counter contains many bottles of expensive liquor and his study includes a sideboard filled with over 30 bottles of expensive Scotch, a husband and his wife drink wine at dinner until he suddenly gets up and leaves to drink with his friends at the club (we don't see the club), men and women drink from beer bottles in their homes and outside their houses, beer bottles and a vodka bottle are shown on a poker table, empty beer bottles are scattered outside a shack, a man drinks whiskey from a short glass at a garden party, a man pours two shots of expensive bourbon that he and another man drink, a teen boy drinks a shot of expensive amber liquor and breaks the shot glass on the floor angrily, a man drinks from a flask of alcohol while he drives, and a man stumbles and slurs his words and his eyes are red from drinking as he runs through a hospital wing to see his injured son (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Relationships, love, marriage, families, dreams, physical and emotional abuse, drug dealers, death, loss, penance, coincidences, sacrifice, reconciliation.

MESSAGE - Coincidences are really miracles.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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