Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Excellent but explicit movie is not for kids.

Movie R 2004 123 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

age 17+

Wine, women and everything inbetween

Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church have dynamic chemistry in Payne's road trip movie, a genre he and I both apparently have a soft spot for. This is often cited as his masterpiece, but "The Descendants" is still one of my all-time favorites, though I can see the acclaim this movie garnered. It's very character-driven, and Giamatti really expresses midlife frustration and depression in general very well. Haden is his opposite, his old college roommate always looking for a thrill with the ladies. The soundtrack was jazzy and fun, the performances layered and it has some very funny, very adult moments that make this for the older teens.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (1 ):

In one of the loveliest moments on screen this year, Miles and Maya tell each other what they like about wine. Miles' favorite, pinot noir, is, he says "a hard grape to grow...thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early...Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can Pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens, its flavors are the most brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet." Maya says she loves the way that wine is a living thing, "constantly evolving and gaining complexity" toward its prime until it reaches its peak. They both know -- as viewers do -- that they are talking about themselves.

Giamatti and Church are magnificent, fully inhabiting beautifully written roles. They are not afraid to let viewers see the considerable flaws of both Miles and Jack, but they are also able to show us their humanity, their connection, and their appeal. Oh and Madsen may have the even tougher challenge, as the female characters are more superficially conceived, fantasy figures whose primary function is to desire and be desired by the men. It is even more impressive, then, that they are able to make Stephanie and Maya so touching and so complete.

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