Movies & More reviewer John Gillispie shares his thoughts on "Ben is Back," which is rated R and available on DVD.
"Ben is Back" is a film about the intensity of a mother's love and a young man's fight against drug addiction.
Julia Roberts stars as Holly, who is happy to see son Ben (Lucas Hedges) come home in time for a short Christmas visit. Both Roberts and Hedges are very good in their roles.
Other members of Ben's family, including his teenage sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) and stepdad Neal (Courtney B. Vance), aren't sure that Ben is ready to be home for a visit. Younger siblings Lacey (Mia Fowler) and Liam (Jakari Fraser) are happy to see their older brother.
Holly goes all out to show her support for Ben, but she vows to keep an eye on him so he won't be tempted to use drugs or get into any trouble while he is home. Ben tells his mother she shouldn't believe anything he tells her. Later, she realizes he means what he has said.
Ben and Holly attend a support meeting in which Ben very movingly shares his regret for the harm he has caused himself and others. Soon, someone from Ben's past learns he is in town and breaks into the family home while everyone is at church.
Only the family dog is missing after the break-in and Ben believes someone with a grudge against him has taken the dog. The viewer also learns that in the past the dog's repeated attempts to wake Ben during an overdose are credited with keeping him alive until help arrived. Ben and his mother set out to find the dog and Holly ends up discovering a lot more about Ben's past activities.
"Ben is Back" is a sad movie with an ending that may not satisfy some people. I felt that the ending represented the continuation of the battle Ben and those who love him must continue to fight.
John Gillispie is the public relations director for the Huntington Museum of Art.