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Benny & Joon Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Quirky comedy about oddballs is edgy for a PG movie.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the subject of caring for a mentally ill family member is the focal point of this movie. Joon seems "normal," as Sam remarks to Benny, but she has tantrums, pyromaniac moments, and breakdowns. But Joon is also an adult, and she has adult feelings, which lead to romance with Sam. Whether this romance is appropriate or not supplies some of the edge to the plot of the movie.

  • Families can talk about the medication Joon relies on to keep her mental illness in check. These days, prescription drugs are advertised on television and in magazines. How does this effect our view of medicine? When is medication truly necessary? When is it abused?
  • Benny gets very upset when Joon and Sam admit that they have begun an adult relationship. Why is Benny so upset? Did he think that Joon should not be having sex because of her age or because of her mental illness, or because of the fact that she was not married?
  • Sam is an adult who cannot read. How can that be? How does illiteracy hinder him? How has he compensated?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The movie is about caring: Benny cares for Joon as her brother, but also as her only family member. Sam cares for Joon, first as a housekeeper and then as a boyfriend. Ruthie cares for everyone in her way, giving tapioca and kindness when it's asked for.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Though Benny is gruff and sometimes a bully, he sets up his life to care for his mentally ill sister. Joon, in her own right, is a free spirit, whose creative energy is expressed everywhere in their home. Sam has special talents, which Benny admires. All of the characters are somehow damaged, but this makes them all the more real.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Benny is a protective big brother, who roughs up Sam when he hears that Sam and Joon are having a relationship.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Some steamy kisses and a scene where Joon and Sam are in bed together: no skin is shown, except for their bare calves sticking out of the covers.

  • language false3

    Language: Runs the gamut, from "damn" to "s--t" and one instance of the f-word.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Benny and his friends drink beer when they play poker, though no one is shown being intoxicated. Ruthie offers Benny a beer when they have an awkward moment. Benny later says, "I need a beer."