Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
No violence, but scary (off-screen) death of the father
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Although the references are so tame by today's standards they would hardly qualify for a PG rating, one of the key issues in the movie is the contrast between Jay's openness and Mary's primness. After Jay's death, Mary realizes that she has to be able to be for Rufus what Jay would have been, and in the very last scene she puts his hand on her belly and tells him that is where the new baby is growing.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Rufus tells Jay that the big boys teased him by telling him he has a "n---er name." Jay comforts him, and tells him never to use that word, because it is a hurtful word. The word he uses is "colored."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jay and his brother drink. Mary disapproves, but after she gets the news of Jay's death, she takes a drink.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids may be especially disconcerted by Mary's reaction to the news of Jay's accident, before she learns that he has been killed. (Please note -- while this movie isn't currently available on DVD, it is available via certain Internet streaming/instant viewing options.) To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This impactful drama is filled with moments of great insight and poignance. The movie's based on the James Agee novel A Death in the Family and its adaptation for the theater by Tad Mosel, both awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Its many memorable characters include Jay, who's a warm and wise father. In the first scene, Jay and Rufus enjoy a Charlie Chaplin movie together. As they walk home together, viewers feel their closeness and the pleasure they feel in spending time with each other. When Rufus is shy in the presence of an elderly relative, Jay shows him that he can talk to her. Mary is loving and devoted, but finds it very hard to talk about her feelings, and especially to talk about sex. When Jay tells Mary it is time let Rufus know that they are going to have another baby, all she can manage to say is that they are expecting a surprise from heaven. After Jay's death, Mary has to deal with Rufus' grief, as well as her own. And she has to find the best of Jay within herself, so she can give that to Rufus.
Kids may be especially disconcerted by Mary's reaction to the news of Jay's accident, before she learns that he has been killed. She goes through a variety of emotions while she waits with her aunt for news. She laughs over a story Jay had told her, nervously checks the tea kettle to see if it has boiled yet, prepares a downstairs room in case he is well enough to be nursed at home, and prays for his life. Discuss with children and teens the way that the stress of uncertainty and the unwillingness to believe that her husband is dead produce this seemingly contradictory and even uncaring reaction.
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.