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Parents' Guide to

3 Generations

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Performances stand out in earnest drama about trans teen.

Movie PG-13 2017 92 minutes
3 Generations Poster Image

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Kids say (6 ):

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.

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