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Breaking Away Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Rousing bicycle-race tale has some profanity, mild violence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this tale of redemption offers a lot in the way of scary, tense, and violent scenes. Although no one gets critically injured, there's lots of fighting. Some kids also may want to imitate the dangerous things characters do in this film: Dave doesn't wear a bike helmet, use a bicycle headlight at night, or wear reflective clothing, and he races in front of cars on a red light. During a bicycle race, a cyclist puts a bike pump in the spokes of Dave's wheel, causing him to crash. Dave races while injured. There's lots of punching and kicking; some blood is seen, but no one is seriously injured. Characters drive around a college campus and discuss women's breasts. Several swear words are used, including "s--t," "hell," "t-ts," "goddamn," "bastards," "son of a bitch," and "damnit." Characters also call others "retard," "p---y cop," and "s--thead."

  • Families can talk about why Dave felt the need to pretend to be someone he's not. Do you ever feel like doing that? When is that acceptable, and when could it be harmful?
  • What similarities and differences do you see between this film and other "coming-of-age" movies?
  • What are the differences between "Cutters" -- "townies" who grew up in the college town of Bloomington, Ind. -- and the college kids who live there to attend Indiana University?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The importance of being true to yourself and your background is shown through discussion and example throughout the movie.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: After pretending to be Italian through much of the movie, Dave Stohler learns to accept and like his background as a "Cutter," aka a townie who has grown up in the college town of Bloomington, Ind. He also trains as hard as he can to be a winning bicyclist.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: One of the main characters initiates a cafeteria-wide brawl after some college guys beat up one of his friends off-screen. Lots of punching and kicking. Some blood is seen, but no one is seriously injured. There also are some bike-related injuries: bruises, cuts, bleeding, and a near-miss with a car. During a swimming race, Mike hits his head on a rock and almost drowns. Katherine slaps Dave.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Dave and Katherine kiss once. Characters drive around a college campus and discuss women's breasts.

  • language false2

    Language: Mild profanity on occasion: "s--t," "s--theads," "damn," "hell," "crap," "t-ts." Name-calling includes "retards" and "p---y cop." The father of an Italy-obsessed son refers to Italians as "eye-ties."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Characters drive past a Marlboro billboard; one of the characters points at it and salutes. Later in the movie, one of the characters points out an advertisement for Marlboro on the back cover of a magazine.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters smoke throughout the movie. Characters are shown drinking beer in a bowling alley but do not act intoxicated.