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Unraveling the Intriguing Plot of Straw Dogs: A Comprehensive Synopsis
Straw Dogs is a psychological thriller that captivated audiences upon its release. Directed by Sam Peckinpah, this gripping film takes viewers on a tumultuous journey through the complexities of human nature. In this article, we will delve into the intriguing plot of Straw Dogs and provide a comprehensive synopsis of this thought-provoking movie.
Setting the Stage
The story of Straw Dogs unfolds in a small rural town in Mississippi. David Sumner, a mild-mannered mathematician played by Dustin Hoffman, relocates to this idyllic community with his wife, Amy, portrayed by Susan George. Seeking solace and peace away from the chaos of city life, they hope to find tranquility in their new surroundings.
As David and Amy settle into their new home, tensions begin to rise when they encounter the town’s locals. A group of laborers working on renovations at their property soon becomes a source of unease for David. Led by the enigmatic Charlie Venner (played by Del Henney), these men exhibit aggressive and confrontational behavior towards him.
The Breaking Point
The film takes a dark turn when Amy’s ex-boyfriend, an aggressive local named Norman Scutt (played by Ken Hutchison), enters the picture. Norman’s presence stirs up unresolved emotions between him and Amy, leading to a series of confrontations that escalate in intensity. As tensions reach their breaking point, David finds himself caught in a web of violence and must confront his own demons.
The Climactic Battle
The final act of Straw Dogs is an intense battle between David and his tormentors. Faced with imminent danger and pushed beyond his limits, David is forced to tap into his primal instincts to protect himself and those he loves. This climactic sequence is a visceral exploration of the human capacity for violence and the lengths one can go to survive.
In conclusion, Straw Dogs is a gripping psychological thriller that explores the darker aspects of human nature. From its serene rural setting to its unsettling encounters and explosive climax, this film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Through its thought-provoking narrative, Straw Dogs raises questions about morality, violence, and the fragility of our own identities. If you’re in search of a movie that will challenge your perceptions and leave you pondering long after it ends, Straw Dogs is an excellent choice.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the ... Read all Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth. Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
- Steven Spielberg
- Tony Kushner
- Michelle Williams
- Gabriel LaBelle
- 495 User reviews
- 336 Critic reviews
- 84 Metascore
- 29 wins & 275 nominations total
- Mitzi Fabelman
- Sammy Fabelman
- Burt Fabelman
- Uncle Boris
- Bennie Loewy
- Younger Sammy Fabelman
- (as Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord)
- Natalie Fabelman
- Younger Natalie Fabelman
- Reggie Fabelman
- Younger Reggie Fabelman
- Lisa Fabelman
- Hadassah Fabelman
- Tina Schildkraut
- Chad Thomas
- Monica Sherwood
- Claudia Denning
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- Trivia During filming, the cast gained access to home movies, photographs, and recollections from Steven Spielberg 's family's past to learn what they were like and how to portray the fictionalized versions of them (The Fabelman family) on screen, while making them feel fresh and original. Paul Dano reflected: "It was overwhelming and it was sort of a heavy cloak to bear because we were with someone who was having a big experience everyday, revisiting and reworking through a part of their life...For somebody like Steven to share that much of himself with us---with the audience too---it was really a profound experience."
- Goofs Younger Sammy Fabelman's eyes are blue, while the older Sammy Fablelman's eyes are brown.
John Ford : When the horizon's at the bottom, it's interesting. When the horizon's at the top, it's interesting. When the horizon's in the middle, it's boring as shit. Now, good luck to you. And get the fuck out of my office!
- Crazy credits Two dedications to Spielberg's real life parents Leah Adler and Arnold Spielberg appear after the closing credits.
- Connections Featured in Amanda the Jedi Show: This Movie was Shockingly Terrible - Best and Worst of TIFF 2022 (2022)
- Soundtracks The Greatest Show on Earth from The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Written by Victor Young , Ned Washington Performed by the Paramount Studios Band Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
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- November 23, 2022 (United States)
- United States
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- 12908 Bailey Street, Whittier, California, USA (Monte's camera shop: Bennie tries to offer Sammy a film camera)
- Amblin Entertainment
- Amblin Partners
- Reliance Entertainment
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- $40,000,000 (estimated)
- Nov 13, 2022
- Runtime 2 hours 31 minutes
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The Fabelmans are a middle-class Jewish family living in various cities in the middle of the 20th century. Steven Spielberg's film about them centers on the conflict between artistic drive and personal responsibility, as well as the mysteries of talent and happiness.
The matriarch, Mitzi ( Michelle Williams ), is a former concert pianist who became a homemaker and piano teacher. The patriarch, Burt ( Paul Dano ), is a scientist who works for various tech companies and likes to shoot home movies. One night, Mitzi and Burt take their eight-year-old son Sammy ( Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord ) to his first theatrical film experience, "The Greatest Show on Earth." It ends with a spectacular train crash that was created with miniatures. Sammy becomes obsessed with the sequence and asks for a train set, which he crashes in an attempt to recreate the scene, infuriating his father, whose takeaway is that Sammy doesn't appreciate nice things. The mother suggests that the boy shoot the trains crashing with his father's movie camera so that he can watch one crash over and over instead of bashing the trains until they fall apart. Sammy is a prodigy, and possibly a genius. Mitzi can tell that from watching the boy's first film, which employs multiple, dynamic angles to capture the crash, and uses editing to build suspense and set up visual jokes.
But this is not just a movie about somebody who's already good at something and gets even better at it. It's about the difficulty of marriage, parenting, and being somebody's child. It's also about the miracle of talent, an idea that's explored not just through the central trio of Sammy, Mitzi, and Burt (who has real talent as a scientist and engineer) but through a secondary character, Burt's best friend Benny Loewy ( Seth Rogen ), who is around their house so much that he's a part of the family. It's obvious that Mitzi clicks more with Benny than with Burt, who is a good husband and father but is fundamentally unexciting (and, to his shame, knows it) and can be blandly controlling. Benny is hale and hearty, a guy's guy, witty and self-deprecating and energetic. He's as gifted at being a mate and parent as Burt is at science, as Sammy is at filmmaking, and as Mitzi was at performance until she gave it up. Notice how, during a Fabelman family camping trip, Burt drones on to the sisters about how to light a campfire while Benny is in the background, using his burly strength to pull back a sapling that Mitzi has clung to, then releasing it to create an improvised playground ride. He knows what this family really wants and needs.
Where do these gifts come from? It's not just in the genes, the psyche, the conditioning, or the trauma. It's mysterious. It arrives out of nowhere like the shark in " Jaws ," the UFOs in " Close Encounters of the Third Kind ," the miracles and disasters of "War of the Worlds" and the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park movies, and the eruptions of gore and cruelty in Spielberg's R-rated historical epics. Sammy's Uncle Boris ( Judd Hirsch ), a circus performer and storyteller, lays it out for him one night: people who know that they have talent must commit to it, not waste it; but the more fiercely they commit, the more they may neglect their loved ones, or feel as if they are (which can induce guilt). This conflict will wrestle inside an artist forever.
From an early age, Sammy figures out—or perhaps instinctively knows —that a camera can be used not merely to tell stories and make pretty pictures, but win friends; placate or manipulate enemies; woo prospective romantic partners; glamorize and humiliate; show people a better self that they could aspire to become; shield the artist against hurt during painful moments; smooth out or obstruct the truth, and blatantly lie.
Sammy continues to refine his skills through adolescence (which is when a thoughtful and subtle young actor named Gabriel LaBelle takes over). He gets better filmmaking equipment that can do more things. When he makes a Western with a bunch of neighborhood kids, he figures out from looking at the way his mother's high-heeled shoe punctured a dropped piece of sheet music on the living room carpet that he can punch holes in strips of film to make it seem like the boys' toy guns are firing blanks, like in a real movie. When Sammy directs a World War II combat film starring his fellow Eagle Scouts, it wins him a merit badge for photography, in large part because he's not just a technician, but a showman who has carefully studied the construction of the movies he loves (John Ford's " The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance " is a big one, and it just happens to be about the tension between reality and myth).
Then Burt moves the family to California. He and his sisters are seemingly the only Jewish kids in a school populated by tall, conventionally good-looking WASPs, some of whom torment Sammy because of his heritage. A fissure opens up in the family, and though it's not anyone's creativity that cracked it open, different manifestations of Fabelman talent pry it further, creating fraught moments in which characters have to decide to reveal an important but hurtful truth or keep it to themselves in the name of domestic tranquility (this film's version of the famous line from Ford's "Valance"—when the legend becomes fact, print the legend).
"The Fabelmans" ends before it can get to the now-legendary story of Spielberg directing Joan Crawford in an episode of "Night Gallery" at age 19 but substitutes a moment just as thrilling: Spielberg's brief meeting with his hero Ford (played in a masterful stroke of casting by David Lynch ) who takes nearly as long lighting a cigar as he does speaking to his visitor. Of course, there's a lot more to Spielberg's personal story.
But this is a movie, and movies can't encompass everything, any more than books or plays can. Spielberg and his co-writer Tony Kushner (who worked with Spielberg on " Munich ," " Lincoln ," and "West Side Story") avoid the fundamental mistake that hobbles so many film biographies (and autobiographies), which is to try to cram every single moment that people might've heard of elsewhere into two-plus hours, making it impossible to linger on any one thing. Kushner and Spielberg (taking his first screenplay credit since "A.I.") refashion the director's life as a work of fiction. That lets them simultaneously tease and nullify a thought that viewers would have had anyhow: How much of this actually happened? And it lets them concentrate on a few milestone moments that have been reimagined for a Hollywood feature aimed at the broadest possible audience, and tie everything back to intertwined questions that any viewer can relate to: How do you define happiness? And is it possible to achieve it without hurting anybody else?
The answer, as it turns out, is no. All of the characters in "The Fabelmans" can be divided into three categories. Some realize they are unhappy and do their best to change their situation. Others remain unhappy because they aren't bold enough (or ruthless enough) to take the necessary steps. And a lucky few don’t worry about it because they’re already happy.
Kushner and Spielberg shape a lot of the story into self-contained scenes with beginnings, middles, and ends, as in a stage play. But of course, Spielberg doesn't shoot anything in a cliched "stagey" way; on the contrary, he once again demonstrates what Orson Welles noticed about him early in his career: that he was the first major director whose visual sense wasn't shaped by the proscenium arch. Much of the film is told in long takes that don't feel show-offy because Spielberg's blocking is always in service of deepening characters and illustrating themes. Just look at that opening scene outside of the movie theater, which ends with young Sammy silhouetted in the middle of the frame: a human dividing line, with his father (who speaks of cinema in terms of photography and persistence of vision) on one side and his mother (who tells him movies are mainly about feelings and dreaming) on the other.
In the end, it all comes back to people figuring out who they are and then deciding whether to fully commit to the course they think will bring them the most happiness. That the movie leaves deep questions unresolved and presents all the related philosophical and aesthetic issues in a playful way (the final shot is a sight gag!) makes the experience quintessential Spielberg. You think he's giving you everything and that it's all right there on the surface. But the longer you sit with it, the more you realize how many gifts it contains.
In theaters now.
Matt Zoller Seitz
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.
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The Fabelmans (2022)
Rated PG-13 for some strong language, thematic elements, brief violence and drug use.
Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman
Michelle Williams as Mitzi Fabelman
Paul Dano as Burt Fabelman
Seth Rogen as Benny Loewy
Judd Hirsch as Uncle Boris
Julia Butters as Reggie Fabelman
Jeannie Berlin as Haddash Fabelman
Robin Bartlett as Tina Schildkraut
Keeley Karsten as Natalie Fabelman
Sophia Kopera as Lisa Fabelman
Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord as Younger Sammy Fabelman
Birdie Borria as Younger Reggie Fabelman
Alina Brace as Young Natalie
Sam Rechner as Logan Hall
Oakes Fegley as Chad Thomas
Chloe East as Monica Sherwood
Isabelle Kusman as Claudia Denning
Gabriel Bateman as Roger
- Steven Spielberg
- Janusz Kaminski
- Michael Kahn
- John Williams
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1952 – On a winter night in New Jersey, Burt (Paul Dano) and Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams) take their son Sammy (Mateo Francis-DeFord) to his very first movie, “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Although Sammy is nervous, his parents assure him that he will have a good time. Sammy ends up being thoroughly engrossed in the film, but the scene that sticks with him the most is when a car crashes into a train and causes a massive pile-up.
Sammy also lives with his sisters – Reggie (Birdie Borria), Natalie (Alina Brace), and baby Lisa. As the family begins to celebrate Hanukkah, Sammy asks for a train set. After building the set, he shows it to his family, but they are stunned when Sammy has the trains crash into each other. Mitzi figures that the scene from the movie is stuck in Sammy’s head out of fear and a need to control his fear, so she buys him a video camera so he can record the train crash and watch it as many times as he wants. Sammy makes a short film with the train crash and shows it to Mitzi, who says it’s the best movie ever.
Sammy starts to make more short films that include his sisters. The Fabelmans are also visited by Burt’s best friend, Bennie Loewy (Seth Rogen), whom the kids view as an uncle. It is also shown that Mitzi is a gifted piano player, which is why she understands Sammy’s own aspirations.
Burt announces to the family that he is moving them to Arizona since his job is moving him and Bennie there. He argues with Mitzi about it since she doesn’t want to uproot their lives, but the kids come in to inform their parents that there is a tornado on the horizon. Mitzi gets Sammy, Reggie, and Natalie in the car and drives to see the tornado closer, almost getting them into a car accident. Shaken up, Mitzi has the kids say, “everything happens for a reason.”
The Fabelmans make the move to Arizona. Years later, Sammy (now played by Gabriel LaBelle) is continuing to make short films with his friends from Boy Scouts, along with Reggie (now played by Julia Butters), Natalie (Keeley Karsten), and Lisa (now played by Sophia Kopera). They go see “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, where one of the boys loudly teases Sammy about a girl he has a crush on, but Sammy remains focused on the movie. He later gathers the other Boy Scouts to help him shoot a western short film, which he presents for all of them and earns a warm reception. Sammy is also shown how to drive by Burt, who discourages his filmmaking endeavors and wants him to do “something that actually matters.”
The family goes with Bennie on a camping trip. Sammy records many shots of them having fun together, with Mitzi acting silly for her kids. At night, Mitzi starts dancing, and Bennie turns on the car headlights to give Sammy good lighting to record it. Reggie attempts to stop her mom because her dress is transparent, but she continues to dance, and the others watch.
Later on, Mitzi’s mother passes away, causing her to fall into a major depression. Burt gets an editing machine and tells Sammy to make a short film of the camping trip, even though Sammy is set to shoot a new film. Burt tells him he is being selfish since he wants Sammy to make the film immediately to cheer his mother up. That night, Mitzi gets what she thinks is a phone call from her mom, warning her about someone coming.
The next morning, the family is visited by Mitzi’s uncle, Boris Schildkraut (Judd Hirsch), whom Mitzi says “scared the crap out of” her mom. Although Boris appears a bit abrasive, he understands Sammy’s fascination with art. He explains how he gave up his own dreams to work and earn easier money, and Boris also says that Mitzi should have been a concert pianist. He encourages Sammy to keep up with his art, even if it conflicts with his family relationships.
Sammy begins to work on the camping film. Throughout the editing process, he notices many clips of Mitzi and Bennie getting very close to one another, even walking off together. This leads to Sammy beginning to resent the two of them. He incorporates his frustration into his direction on his next film, a war movie. He encourages the lead actor to cry for real at the sight of the extras playing his dead soldiers.
Sammy premieres his war film, which receives cheers and applause. However, he starts to deliberately ignore Mitzi and Bennie. After weeks of the same behavior, Sammy and Mitzi get into a big argument that ends with Mitzi slapping Sammy on his bare back, leaving a red handprint. She is immediately regretful but goes to talk to Sammy and asks him to be open with her. Without a word, Sammy gives her the edited reel with footage of her and Bennie. Mitzi is brought to tears but tells Sammy she is sorry and asks him not to tell his father or sisters.
Burt is set to begin a new job, which will require the family to make another move to California. Bennie stays in Phoenix so that there will not be conflicts between Burt and Mitzi. Sammy decides to give up filmmaking and sells his camera, only for Bennie to buy him a new one. Even though Sammy tries to reject it and even pay Bennie back for it, he tells Sammy that he can hate him all he wants, but asks that he does not give up on filmmaking because it would break his mother’s heart.
The Fabelmans make their move to California and stay in a temporary home. Sammy starts high school and quickly gets into hot water with two jocks, Logan (Sam Rechner) and Chad (Oakes Fegley) after Sammy accidentally spikes a volleyball at Logan’s face. When they learn Sammy is Jewish, they begin making anti-Semitic comments at him and call him “Bagelman”. Later, Sammy walks in on Logan making out with a girl named Renee (Chandler Lovelle). When Logan and Chad antagonize Sammy again in front of Logan’s actual girlfriend Claudia (Isabelle Kusman), Sammy blurts out that he caught Logan kissing Renee, which Claudia apparently knew Logan has done before. Logan punches Sammy in the face and demands that he tell Claudia that he lied.
Sammy tells Claudia and her friend Monica (Chloe East) that he lied, but they seem to know that he was forced to say that since he mentioned Renee having red hair. Monica invites Sammy to her house and tries to get him to pray before they begin to make out. They start dating, and Monica has dinner with the Fabelmans, where she encourages Sammy to film their upcoming Ditch Day at the beach. Sammy joins his classmates at the beach and records lots of footage while spending time with Monica and her friends.
When the Fabelmans move into their actual new home, Burt and Mitzi announce to the kids that they are getting a divorce, as Mitzi is still in love with Bennie. Natalie blames Mitzi for their family falling apart while Reggie begs Burt to stay. Sammy retreats to his room, where Reggie talks to him and says he is the most emotionally closed off from the family. Before she leaves, Sammy asks her to watch his rough cut of the Ditch Day film, and she obliges.
Sammy takes Monica to prom. With the stress of his parents’ divorce weighing on him, he tells Monica that he loves her, but she doesn’t feel the same and breaks up with him for thinking he will try and latch onto her with the divorce. Later, Sammy debuts the Ditch Day film, which features clips like Claudia being catty toward Renee, Chad being humiliated by another girl at the beach, and Logan running in a race and looking “all-American” and athletic, which earns him cheers from the crowd and a kiss from Claudia. The students cheer loudly for Sammy, but he has left to sit in the hallway. Logan confronts him and asks why Sammy made him look so good even after the way he treated him, to which Sammy said it was just right for the film. When Chad attempts to attack Sammy for how he was seen in the film, Logan punches Chad in the face and scares him off. Logan amicably departs from Sammy afterward.
Sammy returns home and talks to Mitzi. She tells him how she cannot give up on her love for Bennie and also tells him not to give up on his love for filmmaking. The two reconcile, and Sammy is able to forgive his mother.
A year later, Sammy is living with Burt in Hollywood. He has been unlucky with finding work in his desired field. At home, they receive a letter and picture from Mitzi since she and the girls moved back to Phoenix, which still upsets Burt when he sees Mitzi and Bennie looking happy in the picture. Sammy suggests dropping out of college, but Burt tells him not to, as he has come around on his opinion on his son’s passion and tells him to keep at it. They then look through the mail and find a letter for Sammy from CBS.
Sammy goes to the Paramount Pictures lot to meet with an executive for work on “Hogan’s Heroes.” After Sammy says he is more interested in films than television, the executive gets Sammy to have a brief meeting with famous filmmaker John Ford (David Lynch). Ford smokes a cigar and tells Sammy to look at two paintings and point out that one has the horizon on the bottom, and another on top. He says those two positions are where the art is most fascinating, but the horizon in the middle is “boring as shit”. With this advice, Sammy takes a stroll through the backlot with an invigorated sense in his art, and the camera briefly shifts to have the horizon be on top.
The film is a fictionalized account of Steven Spielberg's life growing up, between his relationship with his family and the growth of his love and passion for films and directing.
Sammy Fabelman develops an interest in films at a young age, and quickly becomes interested in making film. While his mother, Mitzi, family friend Bennie, and his sisters all encourage Sammy, his father Burt sees it as more of a hobby than an actual passion. As Sammy gets older, he finds that Mitzi and Bennie are having an affair, which causes him to resent them. After the family moves to California, Sammy deals with anti-Semitic bullies.
Mitzi and Burt announce their divorce to the kids since Mitzi loves Bennie more. Before the end of the year, Sammy presents a film he made for the senior class's Ditch Day at the beach, which earns him respect from his peers, including one of his bullies.
Sammy ends on good terms with both of his parents as he continues to pursue his passion. He winds up finding a job working on "Hogan's Heroes."
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2022, Drama, 2h 31m
What to know
Part memoir, part ode to the power of the movies, The Fabelmans finds Steven Spielberg digging at the family roots that helped make him a beloved filmmaker -- and proves he hasn't lost his magic touch. Read critic reviews
The Fabelmans may be slow in spots, but Spielberg's nostalgic look at his childhood will take plenty of viewers back to their own. Read audience reviews
Where to watch The Fabelmans
Watch The Fabelmans with a subscription on Showtime, Paramount Plus, or buy it on Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video.
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The fabelmans videos, the fabelmans photos.
Young Sammy Fabelman falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.
Rating: PG-13 (Drug Use|Brief Violence|Some Strong Language|Thematic Elements)
Original Language: English
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Kristie Macosko Krieger , Steven Spielberg , Tony Kushner
Writer: Steven Spielberg , Tony Kushner
Release Date (Theaters): Nov 23, 2022 wide
Release Date (Streaming): Dec 13, 2022
Box Office (Gross USA): $17.3M
Runtime: 2h 31m
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Production Co: Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Amblin Partners
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
Aspect Ratio: Flat (1.85:1)
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Along with a dream technical team, ‘The Fabelmans’ is an ode to filmmaking with some heartfelt insights that could only come from Spielberg.
The Fabelmans Movie Review: In Pursuit of a Passion
- Times of India
Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.
The Fabelmans - Official Trailer
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Out of the world. Spielberg, you beauty !!
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- This film marks the first collaboration of uncle-nephew duo Anil Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor. Arjun is the son of Anil’s brother Boney Kapoor. Share
- This film marks the first collaboration of uncle-nephew duo Anil Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor. Arjun is the son of Anil’s brother Boney Kapoor.
- This is the second time Arjun Kapoor is playing a double role, the first being Aurangzeb (2013).
- The song ‘Yamma yamma’ from ‘Shaan’ is sampled in the song ‘Partywali Night' for the film.
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Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.