According to Greta
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this straight-to-DVD teen drama deals with some mature themes, such as suicide and strained mother-daughter relationships. Although the movie could be used as a good conversation opener about teen suicide, the protagonist, Greta, is not a positive role model. She's unapologetic, rude, selfish, and bratty, not to mention upfront about her plans to commit suicide. The language is pretty mild for a PG-13 movie, with the occasional "s--t" being the strongest word used. Greta and her boyfriend make out, but for once the guy stops the physical relationship from taking the next step. The importance of strong relationships between grandparents and grandchildren is a major theme, so families looking for multi-generational casts may find that aspect of the movie compelling.
What's the story?
Greta (Hilary Duff) is a rebellious, openly suicidal teenager forced to spend the summer with her grandparents Katherine (Ellen Burstyn) and Joseph (Michael Murphy) in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a quaint beach town full of old Victorian homes and even older residents. Never apart from her journal, Greta keeps a bucket list of sorts, except they're all things she'd like to accomplish (get in a fistfight, lose her virginity) before she kills herself. After Greta talks her way into a gig as a waitress at a local seafood restaurant, she falls for a sweet-but-edgy chef's assistant Julie (Evan Ross). As they grow closer, Greta believes Julie is the perfect guy to take home to her grandparents, especially because he's African American and a reformed ex-con. Much to Greta's dismay, the earnest Julie wins over her grandparents, who know he's more together and ambitious (he wants to eventually open a restaurant) than their impetuous granddaughter. Once Greta admits she wants to commit suicide, Julie does his best to dissuade her and even informs her frustrated grandparents about her disturbing plan. Will Greta find the will to live?
Is it any good?
Duff is by far the weakest link in this cast, and since she's the titular character, the movie ultimately falls flat. It's pretty disturbing when as a viewer you don't really care whether the protagonist offs herself or not; Greta is so unlikable and annoying that despite all of her narrated journal musings, she's so blase about suicide that you never once truly imagine her doing it. As Julie, Ross delivers a solid performance as the story's voice of reason, explaining to Greta that usually people who truly want to commit suicide just do it without necessarily informing everyone they know about their plans. Grandparents Burstyn and Murphy are such good actors, a much preferable movie would've switched the focus on their playful, still-passionate marriage as they deal with their off-putting, melodramatic granddaughter.
Melissa Leo cameos as Greta's mother, making it even more obvious how ACCORDING TO GRETA is like an unnecessary sequel to Georgia Rule (wild-child granddaughter -- check; stern but loving grandparents played by Academy Award winners -- check; well-heeled mother with husband troubles -- check). By the time the highly predictable, family-wide confrontation about Greta's dead father, her faux-suicidal tendencies, and her desperate need for structure and stability rolls around, it's hard not to imagine which former teen-star will tackle this exact role next. Amanda Bynes, don't do it!
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about suicide, in particular how Greta's father's death obviously impacted her own suicidal plans. What do you think about Greta's casual attitude about suicide? How does her attitude differ from Julie's, whose best friend did commit suicide?
How is Greta and Julie's romantic relationship depicted? Is it unbelievable that a guy would not accept his girlfriend's advances? What are the compelling reasons Julie refuses to have sex with Greta in that scene in her room?
Greta's grandparents ultimately help her in a way that her mom doesn't. How is the grandparent-grandchild relationship depicted?
|Theatrical release date:||December 11, 2009|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||January 19, 2010|
|Cast:||Ellen Burstyn, Evan Ross, Hilary Duff|
|Studio:||Anchor Bay Entertainment|
|Run time:||90 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||mature thematic material, some sexual content and drug references|