The Soloist parents guide

The Soloist Parent Guide

The fact that every broken soul isn't mended and every sinner isn't saved gives this film an unexpected potency.

Overall B+

An unlikely friendship develops between Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), a Los Angeles reporter, and an exceptionally talented but homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). Hoping to help the amazing musician (as well as his own career), the journalist writes a series of articles about the former Juilliard student. But the media attention has mixed results for both of them. The movie is based on a true story.

Release date April 24, 2009

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

Why is The Soloist rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Soloist PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use and language.

Run Time: 116 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

The Soloist might not have been the kind of happy ending film I was expecting, but it is powerful and thought provoking on many levels. Confronting social issues straight on, it examines some of the problems behind homelessness and the community’s ability or inability to deal with it.

Based on a book by a Los Angeles newspaper columnist, this script takes a few liberties with the actual author’s life in order to create the film version of Steve Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.). From all appearances, things aren’t going well for this divorced journalist who takes a tumble from his bike and ends up in the emergency room with severe facial lacerations. His latest assignment at the paper has him a little peeved too (and bodily fluids become an ongoing problem for this reporter).

Then one day, while struggling to find inspiration for his writing, Steve stumbles upon a homeless man playing a violin in a city park. Even though the musician is down to his last two strings, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jaime Foxx) still manages to coax sweet sounds out of the old instrument. It is soon evident, however, that the eccentrically dressed violinist has more challenges than just a few missing strings. Jabbering rapidly and almost incoherently at times, he talks about his roommates at Juilliard.

Like any journalist worth his salary, Steve follows up on the rambling comment and discovers that Nathaniel was indeed a student at the prestigious music school. Intrigued by the events leading to this man’s current state, Steve begins to delve into the mystery that caused a life to spiral completely out of control. Then he shares what he learns with his faithful readers in his regular column. But as Steve’s honest desire to “help” Nathaniel increases, so does a nagging feeling of exploitation.

Fortunately, in addition to strong performances by Downey and Foxx, this script has some equally impressive secondary characters that give depth to the story. Nelsan Ellis plays a man in charge of an inner city shelter. Despite the depressing circumstances he toils in everyday and the bleak future his clients face, his character remains dedicated to his work and he respectfully reserves judgment. Catherine Keener stars as Steve’s ex-wife who sees this chance encounter with Nathaniel as a way for her former husband to finally face his commitment issues. (Luckily the real Steve Lopez was and is still happily married.)

The fact that every broken soul isn’t mended and every sinner isn’t saved gives this film an unexpected potency. While scenes of street violence, illegal drug use and some profanities make this production unsuitable for younger audiences, the screenplay does give a face to the homeless (many of whom were hired to play themselves in the movie). And though dollars and cents may help alleviate many kinds of suffering and hardship, The Soloist reminds viewers that simple human kindness can be its own catalyst for change.

Starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener.. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release April 24, 2009. Updated

The Soloist
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Soloist rated PG-13? The Soloist is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic elements, some drug use and language.

Dealing with the plight of homeless people, this film portrays street fights that occasionally result in bloody injuries and threatening behaviors, along with alcohol and illegal drug use. Police conduct a raid on the homeless after a man is beaten. A pool of blood is seen on the street. A man is nearly hit by a car. People are shown sleeping on the streets or in makeshift shelters. A man suffers facial lacerations after falling from his bike. A car is set on fire and the sounds of a riot are heard. One man attacks another, hitting and kicking him. Prescription drugs are discussed. Characters are seen smoking. A woman is depicted as being drunk. Characters drink on several occasions, often to relieve stress. A man slips in urine during a medical test. Later he spills animal urine on himself. Mental illness and paranoia are portrayed. The script includes two sexual expletives, numerous profanities and scatological slang terms.

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More parents' guide for The Soloist after the break...

The Soloist Parents' Guide

What does Steve do to help Nathaniel? Why are some of his overtures rejected? Why is it important to offer people the help they want instead of the help we think they need?

Despite the negative portrayal of religious assistance in this film, what positive contributions are church groups making in our country and around the world to easesocial problems?

Nathaniel’s musical talents promised to be an escape for him to get away from the poverty he lived in. While his life may have turned out differently than his family foresaw, how does his music continue to bless him and others?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The Soloist movie is August 4, 2009. Here are some details…

Home Video Release Date: 4 August 2009

The Soloist débuts on DVD with audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French and Spanish). It is accompanied by the following bonus extras:

- Deleted Scene.

- Commentary by director Joe Wright.

- Featurettes: An Unlikely Friendship: Making the Soloist, Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez, One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles and Beth’s Story.

The Soloist also performs on Blu-ray in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and Dolby Digital 5.1 (French and Spanish). This edition is accompanied by:

- Deleted Scenes.

- Theatrical Trailer (in HD).

- Commentary by director Joe Wright.

- Featurettes (in HD): An Unlikely Friendship: Making the Soloist, Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez, One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles, Beth’s Story and Juilliard Piece.

Related home video titles:

Resurrecting The Champ and Saving Sarah Cain are also about struggling reporters who try to boost their careers by writing stories about people in their lives. The life of a brilliant scientist is haunted by mental illness in A Beautiful Mind.