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Breaking Away Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Rousing bicycle race story is a family favorite.

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. While no one gets critically injured, there's lots of fighting. Some kids may also 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; 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. Several swear words are used, including "s--t," "hell," "t-ts," "goddamn," "bastards," "son of a bitch," and "dammit." 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 good and when could it be harmful?
  • Do you know people who pretend to be someone they aren't?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Dave escapes into an Italian fantasy world and pretends to be Italian because he doesn't think the girl he likes will like him as he is. There's a lot of class tension, with college kids making fun of the working-class "cutters." In the end, Dave learns to be himself and to pursue his dreams despite discouragement and sabotage from those who are threatened by him.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

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

  • sex false2

    Sex: Dave and Katherine kiss once. A character wonders about "college girls' t-ts."

  • language false3

    Language: Several swear words are used, including "s--t," "hell," "t-ts," "goddamn," "bastards," "son of a bitch," and "dammit." Characters also call others "retard," "p---y cop" and "s--thead."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: The guys pass and comment on a very large billboard for Marlboro cigarettes.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Mike pretends to smoke cigarettes but doesn't. Others do smoke.