A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that After the Reality depicts how two grown siblings deal with the aftermath of their father's death from cancer. It features strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole") and smoking and drinking. The siblings, in their late thirties, are estranged, the daughter a dutiful caretaker and the son a lying and irresponsible disappointment. He's a contestant on a reality show, hoping to win the bachelorette in question, when he receives the news of his father's demise. The sister is pregnant and unmarried. Old family wounds are revisited. Men punch each other and one cuts himself severely enough to require stitches. A male reality show contestant claims that the bachelorette he and others are vying for is "good in the sack." Two adults have sex briefly, but no nudity. A man's boyhood diary describes his snapping the bra and touching the "boob" of a girl in middle school.
What's the story?
AFTER THE REALITY is a look at the damaging and lasting influence that dysfunctional parents can have on children as they mature into adulthood and beyond. Kate (Sarah Chalke) has left her high-powered job to care for her ailing father, a man who drank too much and announced his disappointment with his children. When the father dies, her brother, Scottie (Matthew Morrison), is a contestant on a Bachelorette-styled TV reality show, vying for the heart of a cliché-spouting blond woman named Kelly (Laura Bell Bundy). She doesn't seem to realize that she's on a money-making game show as she hopes to find true love among her TV suitors. She picks Scottie as her favorite just as he's called away by his father's death and must resign from the show. When he faces the failure his life has been, he goes back, uninvited, to the show and tries to win Kelly back, causing violent trouble on set with the other suitors. Kate, in the meantime, is in a sketchy relationship and learns she's pregnant, all this while simmering over the fact that her ever-irresponsible brother did nothing to help care for their father. She resents him even when he's around to help prepare for the sale of the family cabin. The ending is ambiguous, leaving viewers without any resolution.
Is it any good?
A confusing script makes After the Reality seem like a movie without a cause, skillfully parodying the manufactured "drama" of reality dating shows, but without a clear point to make. A woman whose brother is never going to be the person she wants him to be struggles with her resentment. Sarah Chalke is convincing as the sister who can't understand why her profligate brother is their father's only heir, but her performance can't overcome the shortcomings of a fuzzy-minded script. Many mysteries emerge. Although Kate is a responsible, employed, and caring woman, why does she seem to be no less of a lost soul than her brother? And why does the bachelorette of the TV show reject Scottie after he seemed to be her clear favorite? The general drift of After the Reality seems to be moving toward someone learning some kind of lesson about something or other, but the unfocused, nonspecific ending doesn't really add up to much.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how adult siblings handle the care of disabled older parents. Do you think children have an obligation to care for their parents as they age? Why or why not?
If a father had been a questionable parent, do you think that's a good reason to abandon him at a time of need? Why or why not?
The movie has some strong language. How much is OK in movies? Is it realistic, and does it matter if it is?
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