A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages about the nature of unconditional love -- especially within families -- and the importance of being your true self (and reinforces that you can know who that true self is from a young age). Encourages talking through big issues and challenging situations honestly and openly. Themes include communication and courage.
Positive Role Models
Ray is brave and confident in his identity, even though it's hard to be out as a transgender teen. Maggie is trying her best to figure out how to best parent Ray; she makes mistakes (both in the present and in the past) but always wants to protect and support Ray. The grandmothers love both Maggie and Ray unconditionally.
Violence & Scariness
Ray screams and cries when he realizes his mom has been lying to him. Arguments/tense confrontations. Maggie gets in a minor car accident.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Post-sex scene between two adults. Jokes about whether a girl is hot and if Ray and his male friends would "hit that." Discussion of lovers.
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Strong language include "f--k," "b-tch," "a--hole," and "s--t." (Some language was edited out of the movie to achieve a PG-13 rating.)
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Products & Purchases
iPhone, MacBook, Chevy, Jeep, Ford.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at meals.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 3 Generations is an indie drama starring Elle Fanning as a female-to-male transgender teen being raised by his single mother and lesbian grandmothers in New York City. The movie, which has sparked some controversy among the trans community, doesn't feature a transgender actor in the main role but does portray the character as unambiguously knowing he is male. You can expect occasional strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole") and candid, emotional conversations about the struggles involved with being transgender and raising a transgender child. Characters say the wrong thing frequently and make plenty of mistakes, but that makes them relatable, and most have their heart in the right place. Ultimately themes include courage and communication. In a couple of scenes, teen guys discuss girls they find hot/would have sex with and make jokes about their penis size; other scenes show adults drinking and in bed post-sex. There's some arguing, and a character is in a minor car crash. The film initially earned an R rating from the MPAA (primarily for language) but was edited to be eligible for PG-13. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It has strong performances, but this earnest family drama about a trans teen unfortunately takes an underwhelming turn into melodramatic soap-opera territory. Fanning isn't trans, but she seems to have done enough research to make her portrayal of Ray convincing as he juggles the big feelings that teens born in the wrong bodies must go through. Ray is excited at the prospect of starting a new school, where people won't misgender or misname him; angry that others -- including his progressive lesbian grandma -- don't get it; scared about his romantic prospects; and committed to being his true self. Fanning is a talented young actress, and it's only a shame that the film doesn't stay focused on Ray's journey, instead detouring too much to Maggie.
Maggie is an adult daughter living with her mom to save money, raising her child alone by choice, and now looking for an ex who's still hostile about the way she treated him years ago. Watts occasionally overdoes the soapier bits, particularly in her big scene opposite Donovan, who's none too pleased to see the woman responsible for a lot of unresolved heartache and betrayal. As for supporting players Sarandon and Emond, they play opinionated, well-off, and cultured quite well. They add levity, as well as occasionally the voice of reason and revelation. Sarandon in particular is a stand-in for all those who are open-minded but confused about transgender issues. And when she's not dealing with Maggie's disastrous love life, Watts does a fine job demonstrating the complexity of raising a trans child. Ultimately, 3 Generations would have been better had there been more of the kid and less of the adults.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.