No Good Deed parents guide

No Good Deed Parent Review

Not only will "No Good Deed" discourage you from helping a stranger, it will likely make you less trusting of those you know.

Overall C-

A woman (Taraji P. Henson), home alone with her young children, learns no good deed goes unpunished when she agrees to let a stranger with car troubles use her phone. Actually an escaped convict (Idris Elba), the man returns her kindness with violence.

Violence D+
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use C+

No Good Deed is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, menace, terror, and for language.

Movie Review

It is a dark and stormy night when Terri (Taraji P. Henson) opens her door to a stranger. Sporting a bloody gash on his forehead, Colin Evans (Idris Elba) claims he has had a car accident and needs to use her phone. Offering to let him use her landline on her front porch is one thing, but inviting him inside to wait for the tow truck is another.

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If any movie will keep people from offering a helping hand to someone unknown, No Good Deed could be it. While I’m not arguing against carefulness (or even extreme caution), this film reinforces the fear that the world is a big bad place—because in this case it is. For teens without a healthy sense of community, this message may make things even scarier and more isolating.

For her part, Terri isn’t blameless. The former prosecuting lawyer turned stay-at-home mother of two has just watched her husband head out the door for a weekend golf trip. Short on sleep and adult attention, she lets down her guard and allows herself to be charmed by the handsome stranger who quickly ingratiates himself with her daughter Ryan (Mirage Moonschein).

But the audience knows where things are headed. By the time he rings Terri’s doorbell, Colin has already killed two prison guards and his ex-girlfriend in a graphic and violent act that is repeatedly shown in flashback. He’s also been declared a malignant narcissist by one of the parole officers who refused to approve the convict’s early release. (That officer is lucky he isn’t dead as well.) While Colin’s intentions aren’t entirely understood, it becomes increasingly clear that he won’t let anything stand in the way of getting what he wants.

The stormy weather is only one of the established conventions of a thriller this film employs for the purpose of scaring viewers. Somewhere along the way Terri drops her cell phone making it inoperable when she needs it. As well, the house is full of shadows, kitchen knives and creaking floors. Still, not all are believable. One character, after being knocked unconscious with a fireplace grate, jumps up and resumes fighting without a hint of grogginess. It makes for a great jump scene—but it doesn’t seem very realistic.

Eventually Colin pushes this mom of two into a corner and Terri reacts like a protective mama bear whose cubs are in danger. As a result, threats, intimidation and brutal violence aimed at women leads to fierce and often bloody retaliation. A couple of strong sexual expletives and a host of other profanities also follow.

Not only will No Good Deed discourage you from helping a stranger, it will likely also make you much less trusting of those you think you know.

Directed by Sam Miller. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Idris Elba, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo. Running time: 84 minutes. Theatrical release September 12, 2014. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in No Good Deed here.

No Good Deed Parents Guide

Malignant narcissism is defined as an extreme mix of narcissism (selfishness), aggression, antisocial behavior and sadism. Erich Fromm, the social psychologist who first coined the term in the 1960s, described this severe mental illness as the “quintessence of evil”. How do the prison officials deal with Colin? How does Colin present himself at his parole hearing?

What are the challenges the prison system faces when dealing with patients with mental illness?

In order to build suspense this film includes numerous coincidences. Are they believable or so contrived that they distract from the story? Why does Colin insist on kidnapping the children as well as Terri? What role do hostages play in a crime?

How does this movie portray women? How does Terri use her brains as well as her physicality to protect her children?

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