And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird!

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird! Movie Poster Image
Dated robot comedy set against a backdrop of suicide.
  • PG
  • 1991
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are some positive messages about the importance of family and sticking together, but the message gets muddled against the background of a father's suicide.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young Josh works hard to invent Newman the Robot and is remarkably gifted with computers and robotics. He helps his classmates learn about computers and is generally kind to his younger brother Max. The robot/dad is mostly funny and helpful, but sometimes seems a bit creepy.

Violence

The father of the family is thought to be dead due to suicide. Some comic pratfalls as the robot punches one of the bad guys in the crotch and proceeds to trip another character onto a wheeled cart that sends him knocking into bowling balls, which sends a bowling ball falling from the highest shelf above him. Bullying is implied at school from the son of the bad guy of the film, and eventually they get into a fight.

Sex

Brief kissing between teen Josh and his girlfriend. Sexual implications when Sarah leads Newman (the robot) into the bedroom. Some silly innuendo from the robot ("you can tighten my screws anytime" and "I think I'm overheating!).

Language

A young boy asks, "Where the hell have you been?" 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the bad guys smokes a cigarette while working in his storage shop. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this dated comedy about a robot come to life concerns a family dealing with the aftermath of a father's presumed suicide. Despite this serious topic, the movie takes a silly approach to the family's concern for the dad. Full of goofy pratfalls and some mild innuendo, this is a film kids can easily skip, unless they want to laugh at the outdated computer equipment and old-fashioned clothing.

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What's the story?

Josh (Joshua John Miller), with the help of his little brother Max (Edan Gross), creates a moving and talking robot named Newman out of a wet vac, a desk lamp, and a colander. While attending a Halloween party thrown by his girlfriend, Max plays with a Ouija-style board, which brings back his father (Alan Thicke), who was believed to have committed suicide. Max's father possesses Newman, cracking jokes and working his way back into the hearts of his children and his wife (Marcia Strassman). Together, they must fight nosy reporters and unethical patent thieves.

Is it any good?

While '80s kids might enjoy the kitsch factor of Alan Thicke from Growing Pains playing a wise-cracking robot, this movie hasn't exactly aged well since its 1991 release. The big hair, the big phones, and big computers scream "early nineties." The robot Newman, Macguyvered out of spare parts from the garage, will surely test the credulity of more sophisticated and skeptical kids. 

As a simple and lighthearted family comedy, perhaps this would be enjoyable enough on its own, but its attempts at bringing suicide into the story are poorly handled at best, and at worst, border on offensive to those who are or have experienced this tragedy. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how families cope with suicide. How accurately does the film reflect a mother and two sons living in the aftermath of this tragedy? How do you feel about this topic as part of a comedy?

  • Contrast the technology of that time with the technology of today. What looks the same and what's different?

  • Where does this film draw its humor from? What makes the movie feel outdated? What are some characteristics of movies that stand the test of time"

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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