The Movie: 7.5/10
A story about a mother torn by her son’s choices and drug addiction could be overly sappy, or go the other way and be shockingly gritty and gory. They didn’t go with either of these with Ben is Back. Our Pretty Woman and nephew from Manchester By the Sea tell it with just enough emotion and danger that it feels close to real, but they don’t go too awful dark with the tone. I usually don’t like the middle of the road type of storytelling, but this time around I appreciate what they are doing. They aren’t going to bludgeon us with the “drug addicts destroy families” theme. They are just tapping us on the shoulder, calmly, without judgement or shock and awe. I’m not saying this movie isn’t sappy or overly emotional, it is, but it’s appropriate and tells this story well.
The son has gone to rehab, but shows up for Christmas. His mom is glad, but hesitant. The step father is angry. The siblings are excited but confused. The old “friends” are lurking, along with remnants of old choices. Mom takes the son to the Christmas show, and follows him into an NA meeting. Oh, the family fun:) It feels honest though, even the moment when Mom shows her bitterness to the old doctor who first prescribed pain pills to the son years ago. MOM IS PISSED, and then she’s fine again. We know how moms are, and Julia Roberts does this beautifully. I have seen THAT look on my own mother’s face in my life. It felt genuine, and along with the rest of the cast, this is what made Ben is Back a better movie than I think it would have been without them.
I would recommend Ben is Back on a rainy afternoon, followed by something a more light hearted from one of the stars. I would say Pretty Woman…not Manchester by the Sea. That one is for another day, when you are ready for an excellent movie and you are feeling very emotionally stable (with a good supply of tissues). 🙂
- Audio Commentary With Director Peter Hedges – A detailed commentary that gets surprisingly technical in parts.
- Photo Gallery
- Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 7/10
Ben Is Back comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate and an AVC 1080P encode that looks good but is not going to wow you. Shot using an Arri camera and with a surprising amount of color correction in the image the film always looks slightly blue. A couple of the later darker sequences are also noisy.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track used here is the type you would expect from a talky film such as this. Dialog is very clear and very central and music when used fills the room with surround activity. Surround sound is minimal though and you might think your rear speakers are unplugged.
Overall Score 7.5/10