Making the Grades
AT THE AGE OF TWELVE, Danny Morrison (Matthew O'Leary) has been hauled in by local law enforcers more than once for misdemeanors, truancy, and lying. His acting out seems to be connected with key events during the course of his parents' marital breakup. While his father Frank (John Travolta) is an involved and trusting figure who maintains a cordial relationship with his mother, it isn't enough to negate the reverberating effects their divorce continues to have on Danny's young life. So when his mom, Susan (Teri Polo), marries Southport, Maine's richest and most eligible newcomer, the police sergeant isn't surprised to see Danny and his dad down at headquarters again.
This time the adolescent is full of wild accusations that his new stepfather, Rick Barnes (Vincent Vaughn), has murdered a man and disposed of the body. When a perfunctory and superficial search by the police fails to turn up any hard evidence, the case is closed and Danny is sent home with his mom and step-dad.
While Frank admits his son has been untruthful before, something about this story is different. Unable to think of a time that Danny has lied to him, the resident boat builder begins to wonder if there is any credence to his son's allegations. But his unsettling hunch about Rick turns to worry for his son's safety when Danny suddenly begins to avoid him and sever their father/son friendship. Equally disquieting is Danny's mother, who seems oblivious to the chilling atmosphere at home while desperately trying to promote peace between her offspring and new spouse. Driven by a nagging apprehension, Frank starts his own investigation.
Messages about the far reaching effects of divorce and the importance of being trustworthy are implied in this film. But parents may object to the repetitive use of course language including crude sexual terms, a vicious murder, and brutal fighting between adults. Throw in the depiction of a suspicious stepfather, ominous threats and aggression directed toward an early teen, and this film may prove to be more than a little disturbing for family viewing.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Domestic Disturbance.
Although Frank and Danny discuss the marital breakup, few reasons are given. Considering Susan’s second choice for a husband, would more marriage counseling have been a preferable option for the divorced couple and their son? What are some of the long-term effects of divorce on parents and their children?
Why is trust between Frank and Danny so vital in this movie? Why is it important for parents to be able to believe their children? How can you earn someone’s trust?