6.9/10
2,134
27 user 89 critic

Ben Is Back (2018)

Trailer
2:26 | Trailer
A drug addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family's home on Christmas Eve.

Director:

Peter Hedges

Writer:

Peter Hedges
Reviews
Popularity
145 ( 28)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Julia Roberts ... Holly Burns
Lucas Hedges ... Ben Burns
Courtney B. Vance ... Neal Beeby
Kathryn Newton ... Ivy Burns
Rachel Bay Jones ... Beth Conyers
David Zaldivar ... Spencer 'Spider' Webbs
Alexandra Park ... Cara K
Michael Esper ... Clayton
Tim Guinee ... Phil
Myra Lucretia Taylor Myra Lucretia Taylor ... Sally
Kristin Griffith ... Mrs. Crane
Jack Davidson Jack Davidson ... Dr. Crane
Mia Fowler ... Lacey Burns-Beeby
Jakari Fraser ... Liam Burns-Beeby
Cameron Roberts Cameron Roberts ... James Lamson
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Storyline

Follows the charming yet troubled Ben Burns (Hedges), who returns home to his unsuspecting family one fateful Christmas Eve. Ben's wary mother Holly Burns (Roberts) welcomes her beloved son's return, but soon learns he is still very much in harm's way. During the 24 hours that may change their lives forever, Holly must do everything in her power to avoid the family's downfall.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 December 2018 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

Ben Is Back See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$80,733, 9 December 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,374,293, 17 January 2019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lucas Hedges is one of two actors in 2018 playing drug addicted children. The other is Timothée Chalamet in Beautiful Boy (2018). Hedges and Chalamet appeared together in Lady Bird (2017) the previous year. See more »

Quotes

Neal Beeby: If you were black, you would be in jail right now.
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User Reviews

In the current spate of young-men-in-addiction, this one reveals the horror at home better than any other treatment.
18 December 2018 | by jdesandoSee all my reviews

In the many treatments of troubled young men this year (Boy Erased, Beautiful Boy, Burning, to name ones I'm aware of), Ben is Back is the most affecting. Ben (Lucas Hedges) has bolted from his rehab clinic to spend time with his loving family. Although the film devolves into a quasi-thriller, the first half or so depicts with alarming clarity what it means to have a heroin addict in the house, even for a day. It's hell.

His Mom, Holly (Julia Roberts), is the one most acutely aware about hiding anything that her son might use to get off the wagon. Holly is one of the strong women characters for this year, reminding that Roberts has the chops to pull of a heavily dramatic role, as she did in Erin Brockovich and August: Osage County. Hedges, like Roberts, gives a performance of his much shorter lifetime.

The household stress is shifted when Ben's pet dog is stolen for ransom to lure him back into the dealer game. Director Peter Hedges (father of Lucas) has mom and son searching for the dog but also for a connection that can erase Ben's addiction. Finding the dog is the action to make the film come alive and to show the audience the scary world of drug dealers.

By moving the action to the search outside the home, Hedges has lost the demanding drama of family adjustment including the teen sister, Ivy (Kathryn Newton), the two younger siblings, and the tough-love Dad, Neal (Courtney B. Vance). The world of dealers we have seen before, but such a slice of upper-middle class turmoil has been too infrequently portrayed. Even Beautiful Boy didn't involve the audience as much as Ben is Back does.

By adding the dealer turn of the screw, Hedges has revealed the convoluted and pain-giving world of addiction, now planted firmly in homelife, where even the streets must compete for tragedy and despair. Although Ben is Back has formulaic elements and an unfortunate clustering with other young-men lost films this year, it stands alone in revealing the horror addiction unleashes at home


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