A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Parents is a dark satire about youth soccer that is not appropriate for kids. The story is told through the parents' perspectives, and uses frequent profanity (including "f--k"), sexually suggestive content (jokes about oral sex, cheating, cybersex references, and more), and mature themes to portray the overzealous pettiness of helicopter parents desperate to see their kids succeed in team sports at any cost. There is very little soccer actually played and kids are only peripherally present.
What's the story?
Former advertising exec and self-proclaimed post-feminist woman Kathy (Janeane Garofalo) has moved to the suburbs to be a stay-at-home mom. Upon enrolling 7-year-old daughter Jenna in soccer to cut the day-to-day drudgery of suburban life, Kathy transforms from skeptical parent to obsessed soccer mom, increasingly more consumed with the local politics, gossip, backstabbing, and all-around pettiness of club moms like Melissa (Cheri Oteri). Before she knows it, she's head to head with despicable coach Nick (Christopher Titus). Will the sports-induced madness drive her crazy, or can she rein it in before she loses her cool?
Is it any good?
Bad Parents is a dark satire about a so-called epidemic we're all likely to have seen or heard about: the hyper-competitive sports parents. You know, the ones who relentlessly pressure their kids to succeed, live vicariously through their successes, and have no concept of healthy rivalries. But here, this already cliched depiction gets the even more over-the-top take, rendering this film a totally nuance-free zone of mockery. Every parent is a terrible, selfish jerk, a whiny brat, a horrible loser, only made worse by the coach's relentless arrogance. Because characters are so bluntly rendered, there is almost no room for any good lessons or solutions or thoughtful meditations.
Add in the frequent profanity and sexually suggestive content (jokes about oral sex, cheating, cybersex references, and more), and you have a movie only suitable for parents, yet one that manages to treat their concerns like caricature. That said, parents who've found themselves in the terrible trenches of toxic junior soccer leagues may find a stress reliever here anyway -- thanks to good performances from comedian Christopher Titus as the arrogant coach, and Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri as the deranged, cheating soccer mom, there are a few good (very adult) laughs. Just make sure the kids are asleep.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about satire. Satire uses exaggeration to make a point about society's shortcomings, but it has to be realistic. Does the film feel based enough in reality to be relatable or useful?
Competitiveness can be a useful motivator that produces good results, but unhealthy competition can be tremendously damaging. How can you tell the difference? Does the film make a point of drawing that line clearly?
What might make certain people become consumed with living through their children's successes? Did the film offer a solution to the epidemic of toxic competition in kids' sports? If so, what was it? If not, what might a solution be?
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