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 ensemble comedy-drama about occasionally loutish guys and the girls who love them (or don't) has an abundance of swearing and sexually-oriented banter, including marital infidelity. No actual sex happens, however; just lots of talk about it and quick rifling through pages of a porno magazine. The female characters can trash-talk as strongly as the men at times. The loose plotline isn't the strongest grabber for young attention spans, despite a gallery of recognizable mainstream Hollywood stars in the cast.
What's the story?
Willie (Timothy Hutton), a small-time piano player in Chicago bars, returns to his snowy Midwest hometown, ostensibly for his ten-year high-school reunion, but also to make up his mind about whether to grow up and get serious about his longtime girlfriend -- described as a lawyer with brighter career prospects than his. All his old buddies, going-nowhere working-class guys who drive a snowplow fleet, also grapple with their relationships; Paul (Michael Rapaport) pines for a fed-up girlfriend who has moved on, while former star athlete Tommy (Matt Dillon) still sees his class sweetheart even though she married another man and Tommy is supposedly committed to Sharon (Mira Sorvino). By the morning after the reunion the trio have made their decisions.
Is it any good?
Beautiful Girls is a decent but unspectacular specimen with an above-average cast. It has the benefit of sassy, savvy female characters as well, giving these barfly buddies the occasional verbal reality-check they deserve. If viewers invest attentively in, say, the first 30 minutes of Beautiful Girls, they'll have a reasonably fun time for the duration. Assuming, of course, a really hot, flashy action-blockbuster doesn't walk past and draw attention away...
It's the coarse Paul who gives BEAUTIFUL GIRLS one of its many do-people-really-talk-like-this? quotable moments, with an eloquent and poetic (and utterly out of character) defense of his wallpapering his bachelor-pad with supermodel layouts -- that idealized "beautiful girls" represent infinite possibilities and happiness for the unattached heterosexual male. With that he sums up the basic dynamic of the "guytalk movie," of which there were many in the 1980s and 90s. These were male-oriented, loosely-plotted comedies in which tribes of young, unwed guys weigh the advantages of committing to their same old, long-suffering girlfriends or holding out for the chance an electrifying hottie could walk into their lives (the unintentional gag here being a movie goddess like Mira Sorvino could be cast as the drab, ordinary choice). Such flicks provided actors (not to mention writers) with rich character parts and diverting bull-session dialogue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters and the choices they make. Ask kids of dating age if they relate to any of the attitudes here. Since the (faint) structure of the plot is provided by a ten-year high-school reunion and the soul-searching it brings, you could discuss with teenage viewers the choices they are making now, and how they might affect them in 10 years.
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