Dangerous Child (2001)
Troubles with Teens
You can't expect the world to automatically know what is going on in your mind - Brad
After her marriage ended as Sally Cambridge (Delta Burke) couldn't take the demeaning abuse and verbal abusing of her husband Brad (Vyto Ruginis) she took custody of their two teenage boys Jack (Ryan Merriman) and Leo (Marc Donato) and all was going fine. But then shortly after Jack's sixteenth birthday he starts to be prone to sudden out bursts of rage and violence as well as shoplifting which Sally tries to deal with by covering for him. But things spiral out of control as Jack starts to get violent towards her till things fly out of control with Jack being injured and Sally arrested and questioned of suspected child abuse and endangerment.
I think I've watched so many made for TV movies which tackle serious issues that it takes something special to make me really sit up and pay attention to it and be blown away like others appear to be. "Dangerous Child" almost achieves it with a well thought out storyline which explores a real family issue and shows that things don't always boil down to one cause. But I suppose the thing which stops me from being blown away is that it is a TV movie and is prone to typical moments of TV movie melodrama and ropey acting.
But anyway down to what is good about "Dangerous Child" and to explain I had better say spoiler alert so if you don't want to know how this plays out then walk away now. What we watch is how Jake becomes progressively angrier and often that anger is pointed towards his mother. What we also see is how Sally's ex-husband is aggressive and demeaning towards Sally which suggests that we have combination of out of control teenage hormones with a son learning to treat women in a certain way having watched his father do the same to his mum for many years.
All of the above makes "Dangerous Child" familiar as many of these TV movies would stop there and say the bad husband is to blame for the son's bad behaviour but to its credit "Dangerous Child" goes further and shows that Sally was also to blame through covering for her son's behaviour and not putting an end to it. Yes they bring this back to Sally's own parents but it is nice to see that here is a movie which doesn't just find one source of the problem but highlights the cause is a combination of things. It also highlights that in this sort of situation there is no quick fix and anger management issues take time to sort out as do family issues.
As for the acting well as I said I have watched a lot of TV movies and that on show here is typical of the genre with fluctuations between realism and soapy and cheesy in places. But it has to be said that Ryan Merriman has piercing eyes which work well in moments of anger but also soften to show the various sides of his character.
What this all boils down to is that "Dangerous Child" is a good movie for the simple reason it shows that the issue on hand, one of a son full of rage does not boil down to one person's fault but is a combination of causes. But at the same time "Dangerous Child" is a made for TV movie and frequently fluctuates between realism and soap opera.
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