A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this offbeat comedy includes some sexual content (Sandra Bullock strips down to her bra, and Bradley Cooper is shirtless in the film's one love scene), as well as humorous but continuous references to sex, dating, and unrequited, obsessive infatuation (i.e. stalking). Language includes frequent use of words like "s--t" and "a--hole," and there's a brief glimpse of adults drinking beer with meals. There's a little bit of mild peril when characters get stuck in potentially dangerous situations, as well as a few cartoonish pratfalls.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is a know-it-all crossword-puzzle editor at a small Sacramento newspaper. Temporarily living with her parents (Howard Hesseman and Beth Grant), Mary agrees to go a on a blind date they've set up with Steve (Bradley Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news channel. Mary immediately realizes that Steve is a catch and aggressively pounces on him, only to turn him off when she won't stop talking. After losing her job for making the weekly crossword all about her new crush, she decides to stalk him as he tracks down news stories with cocky on-air reporter Hartman (Thomas Haden Church).
Is it any good?
Without denying the considerable comic talent of Bullock and Cooper (for proof, see their far better comedies The Proposal and The Hangover), this film is neither funny nor romantic. Instead of seeming nerdy cute like so many male protagonists in romantic comedies, Mary just seems stunted and desperate. It's disingenuous to believe that a walking encyclopedia who loves words so much would be so shallow. One meaningless tussle in the back of a car does not a romance make.
Bullock, so charming even in her lesser films, can't save this nearly unwatchable mess. Cooper does his best acting either put-upon or crazed, and Church earns the movie an extra star for actually eliciting a few laughs. His ambitious, arrogant reporter is a caricature, sure, but he's a welcome break from the train wreck that is Mary and Steve.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about obsessive relationships. Is Mary a stalker? Do you think that it's OK for the movie to find humor in that situation? What would be the consequences in real life?
How would the movie change if the main characters' genders were reversed? Would it be just as funny, or would it seem scary if a man was doing the stalking?
Does the movie send a negative message to "book smart" young women, or is it a positive one?
- In theaters: September 4, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 22, 2009
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church
- Director: Phil Traill
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content including innuendos.
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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