"Ben Is Back" Movie Review

"Ben Is Back" Movie Review

10 out of 12

Ben is back. But will this surprise Christmas visit fare better than Ben’s previous times at home?

The answer is inevitably no. And while Ben Is Back focuses on the consequences Ben’s family deals with because of him, there’s a “thriller” nature to it in wondering when and how it’ll all go wrong this time.

Kathryn Newton and Lucas Hedges (also feuding siblings in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) give great performances as a concerned yet skeptical sister and a struggling to recover brother. But it’s Julia Roberts as Ben’s mom whose performance steals the show, with emotional bredth that effortlessly swings from happy to comical to frantic.

I only wish Ben Is Back would’ve doubled down on the thriller aspect of the film. Ben tells his mom never to trust anything a drug addict says, which opens a wide door for devious activity and unforeseen twists. As it is, the movie only grazes this interesting plot device.

While taking necessary shots at society’s mishandling of drug abuse, like in a revealing pharmacy visit sequence, Ben Is Back is a hard look at the consequences of drug addiction; consequences that make Ben being back more complicated than you initially imagine.

Acting and Casting - 2 | Visual Effects and Editing - 2 | Story and Message - 1 | Entertainment Value - 2 | Music Score and Soundtrack - 1 | Reviewer's Preference - 2 | What does this mean?

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