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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive messages include the need for prioritizing family over career and recognizing the importance of being present for the people you love. Promotes work-life balance and appreciating what you have, as opposed to always chasing for more. Also advocates for couples and parents and kids to spend more time together.
Positive Role Models
Elise is a caring, protective, loving wife and mother who genuinely wants her family to stay united, despite her husband's occasional indifference and hot-tempered rants. She sees what he can't: It's his presence that counts, not his salary. Dane redeems himself and recognizes the consequences of his unethical behavior at work, as well as his indifference with his family.
Violence & Scariness
Not violent per se, but disturbing: A child with cancer at certain points is in a coma and looks like he's going to die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Prolonged scene in which a married couple discusses their sex life, including the wife's ability at oral sex, the husband's need for more sex, and the wife's need for more intimacy and foreplay. The husband describes how often and how boring their sex is each month. A man jokes that he doesn't need a family because he can afford a $500 per hour "Brazilian" who will do whatever he wants.
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Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "a--hole," "d--k," "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at dinners and work parties.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Family Man is a drama centering on a working father with a high-pressure job who has trouble managing his work-life balance. Starring Gerard Butler, the movie explores mature issues such as the too-predictable sex life of a middle-aged couple, the domestic imbalance between spouses (a husband all but ridicules his wife by demanding she get a job using Pinterest, with raising children as her skills), and the cutthroat nature of commission-based careers. Although there are no actual sex scenes, there's a prolonged conversation in which a couple explicitly discusses their sex life, including frequency and positions, while a single man boasts about his high-priced sex worker companion. Language is occasionally quite salty, including "f--k," "s--t" and "d--k." Some viewers may be bothered by the fact that a sick child is used primarily as a catalyst for a healthy adult's emotional development. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Producer-turned-director Mark Williams' predictable drama is melodramatic and unsatisfying thanks to its unlikable, unethical protagonist, who shouldn't need a dying son to become a better man. Compared to cinematic Wall Street boiler rooms and legendary real estate scams, headhunting seems a lot less compelling a field to consider cutthroat. Dafoe's hedonistic boss sets the tone for Dane's Machiavellian nature (Dane routinely sabotages clients' prospects if they're trying to get jobs outside of his firm), but the world of headhunting just doesn't have the same human interest as the salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross stealing folks' entire savings. That aside, Butler's character is just a terrible guy who only comes around when his son is literally on the brink of death. It's a clichéd character arc that reinforces the stereotype that sick and disabled people (particularly kids) exist solely to help healthy people (even parents) have breakthrough realizations about their lives. The best part of the film is Alfred Molina as Lou, a kind-hearted 59-year-old client of Dane's who wants to secure a new engineering job, not realizing that Dane's just using him to help get "placeable" younger clients more prepared for their interviews.
Brie, as a slightly more "by the books" recruiter, doesn't have enough screen time, and Mol is left with little to do but complain about her husband's critical character flaws. At the very least, she does get one "mama bear" scene in which she understandably lashes out at her hospitalized son's teacher for prematurely using his desk as tissue box storage, instead of keeping it ready for the boy's return. Butler overacts, but there are a couple of sweet moments between him and the young actor who plays his son, who loves architecture and is excited to visit the most fascinating buildings in Chicago with his dad. But a few decent scenes can't propel a movie to greatness. While watchable (the production values are polished, the actors notable), this is the sort of drama you might watch on late-night cable or stream while multitasking, not one that you run out to see in theaters.
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.