Logan Stanzione gives a tour-de-force performance as Joshua Scott, an addict who wound up in prison after he and his brother attempted a break-in at a house. The homeowner shot Josh’s brother, Anthony, and Josh’s life sunk even further down the drain.
As Josh, Stanzione shows a wide range of emotions, including fear, anger, remorse and ultimately, faith and hope in God. Josh is meeting regularly with his AA group, and he’s doing his best to follow the 12-Step program. To name a few of the 12 Steps, Step One is that a person can’t conquer addictions on his/her own and that the person’s life has become unmanageable. Step Two is to believe that the power of God can restore the person to complete spiritual health.
By the time the group members get to Step Twelve, they have each overcome a lot. Step Twelve is having had a spiritual awakening, and as a result of following Jesus Christ, they share this message with others and practice these principles in all aspects of their life. The good thing is the movie focuses on Christ several times. There is one instance, however, when it’s stated that one must believe in a “higher power,” whether it’s “Christ or whatever higher power you believe in that’s helping you overcome these addictions.” We at Dove believe this one comment negates the sacrifice of Christ and this is a good discussion point for parents to have, to remind their kids to focus on Christ, as well as if a person who is struggling with addiction watches the film. On the positive side, Christ is mentioned several times as being there to help us.
The film shows the struggles and battles that addicts fight, with group members sharing they have used heroin, meth, cocaine, and alcohol. They also share how they abused people, with one member admitting he was friends with one man because of what he could get from the man. The film does feature a few comedic moments, which helps lighten things up a couple of times. For example, at the end of one session Josh tells Mark, the group leader, he has to get back to his home because, “unfortunately, they know how long it takes for me to get back!” Josh also wears an ankle tether and, indeed, a few times he goes just a bit further than he is supposed to, and the tether alarms until he takes a few steps back. Josh lives with his mother, Melissa (Sandy Stickel), “the Cake Queen,” as she has a cake business and showcases it on social platforms. She is in Josh’s corner as his greatest supporter.
Josh is surprised one day when a lady from a local church, Kate (Adrianna Licitra), shows up at the door to invite Josh to a fundraiser at the church. We later learn that her visit isn’t exactly random. Josh and Kate are attracted to one another, and this becomes apparent soon enough. Despite his struggles and a few misunderstandings, they manage to move forward in their relationship. The story features appropriate music for the scenes, some sounding dramatic and serious, and some of the music sounding hopeful.
In one dramatic scene, Vanessa, a former girlfriend of Josh’s, shows up with liquor and she attempts to have sex with him. He bravely tells her he’s not the same man and when she continues to force the issue, he firmly tells her to stop. Vanessa is aware of Kate, and when she tells Josh he must choose Vanessa or “her,” Josh boldly says, “Her!” Kate is, in fact, a positive influence on Josh.
There are several things to think about and to discuss with fellow viewers and family members. The power of addiction is clearly revealed, but also the hope of Christ to set the captive free. The film powerfully shows how low some addicts can sink to hold on to their addictions. Yet it shows that by following the 12 steps, and asking for forgiveness from others, while also forgiving others, a person’s life can become fruitful.
The movie does feature a twist at the end, but it ends well. It features a few strong sexual innuendos and bold talk about the addictions the various AA members have contended with. Yet it shows the process as well as the progress that its members make, and the importance of support and sharing with others what the group is facing, in a confidential manner.
Because of the importance of the film, and also considering some of the content such as the innuendos, the film has procured our Dove seal for Ages 12+. Parents should consult our content listing to make informed decisions as to whether their children ages 12 and above can navigate the content of the film.
THE DOVE TAKE: This film could be a powerful tool to guide people struggling with addictions, and because examples of the 12 Steps are included, it can also serve as a warning to kids 12 and above, to avoid the pitfalls of addiction and to look to Christ for strength and help.