A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All We Had focuses on the relationship between a single mom (Katie Holmes, who also directs) and her teenage daughter (Stefania Owen). They're desperately broke and end up working together in a small-town diner while trying to figure out what to do with themselves. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis that devastated rural towns across the country, the movie includes a fair bit swearing ("f--k," "s--t," etc.), as well as smoking and drinking -- including by teenagers. There's a gradual realization that a main character has a drinking problem; she attends AA meetings. Several scenes show people kissing/fooling around, but there's no graphic nudity. A woman is almost raped in a parking lot by a group of men, but they're chased off.
What's the story?
In ALL WE HAD, Rita (Katie Holmes) is a single mom who seems to bounce from one bad boyfriend to another, eventually skipping town when the relationship has run its course -- always with her teenage daughter, Ruthie (Stefania Owen), in tow. Broke, they end up stuck in a small town after trying to skip out on the check at a diner, only to see their car finally break down. It's a sign, perhaps, and Rita ends up landing a job at the diner after she offers a heartfelt apology to the owner (Richard Kind). It might finally be time for the two of them to put down some roots, but not everything goes smoothly.
Is it any good?
This mother-daughter drama marks Holmes' directing debut, and while it has strong performances, it limps along with no clear destination. Owen, as well as Eve Lindley as a diner co-worker and Luke Wilson as a semi-regular customer, all work well together on the screen, and the characters' budding friendships seem real and appealing. But that's about it. We see the mother-daughter bond evolve, but neither of the main characters seems to grow much. They're much the same at the end of the movie as they were at the start.
The movie's moments are stitched together with a plodding voiceover that has plenty of detail but little that drums up excitement. While viewers might like Ruthie, there's not much reason to get invested in her character, and there are lots of reasons to be skeptical about Rita's abilities. Holmes does a fine job portraying the flighty, self-indulgent mother, but acting alone can't make All We Had a compelling film.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does this movie compare to other films about single moms looking for a better life for them and their children? Why do you think this theme is especially common in movies about mothers and daughters?
Does Rita and Ruthie's relationship seem realistic? Does their connection feel authentic?
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