A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Being Frank is a comedy about a man (Jim Gaffigan) whose 17-year-old son (Logan Miller) discovers that his dad has another family. Expect to see a parent being both socially and emotionally abusive. Underage teens and adults drink and smoke pot; there's also a fair bit of strong language ("s--t," "f--k," and more), as well as infidelity, innuendo, and flirting. Frank doesn't always take responsibility for his choices -- or their effects on his families -- but the movie shows that actions have consequences. It also does a balanced job of presenting the idea that there are always two sides to every story. It's easy to get angry when you feel betrayed by someone you love, but the film makes the case that it's wise to try to understand others' perspectives before making assumptions or forming judgment.
What's the story?
In BEING FRANK, Frank (Jim Gaffigan) appears to be a regular family man -- but then his 17-year-old son, Philip (Logan Miller), realizes that his dad has a double life. Philip is a typical teen who's trying out his young adulthood (and freedom) while completing his senior year of high school. He longs to leave his small town and go to college at NYU -- but for some reason Frank discourages him. We later discover why: Frank doesn't want Philip to find out about his secret sister, Kelly (Isabelle Phillips), who's also been accepted. On a fateful weekend during Spring Break, Philip realizes the truth. His father has a whole other family, which also includes a wife (Samantha Mathis) and a brother (Gage Banister). Armed with this newfound knowledge, Philip decides to take matters into his own hands.
Is it any good?
This indie comedy has a lot going on, but the overall message cleverly showcases that there are always two sides to every story. Luckily for Frank, Philip is willing to walk a mile in his father's shoes to see what life is like for his dad when he's with his other family. This film candidly depicts how a teen who's full of angst and on the brink of self-discovery finds a way to usurp authority over his controlling father, who happens to be living a lie.
Gaffigan is comedic in the lead role, yet so much is going on during the climactic scenes that the story can be a bit much to follow. And Philip's eagerness to be an accomplice in covering up Frank's lies is at times heart-wrenching to watch. It's hard to tell whether Frank is genuinely concerned for the emotional well-being of both of his families or whether he's more interested in not getting caught in the web of lies that he created. In the end, themes of honesty, sacrifice, and the impact of lies are clear. Frank eventually has to face the consequences of his choices and face up to the effect that his decisions and actions have on both of his families.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Being Frank's subject matter. Is it timely? How do current perspectives on marriage compare to those of previous generations? What messages does the movie send about marriage and relationships?
In what ways do parents' choices affect their children's lives of their children? What do the characters learn in this movie?
How does the character trait of selfishness affect relationships?
Is living a lie ever justifiable? Is honesty the best policy as it applies to family and relationships? Why or why not?
- In theaters: June 14, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 6, 2019
- Cast: Jim Gaffigan, Logan Miller, Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis
- Director: Miranda Bailey
- Studio: The Film Arcade
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, some sexual references and drug use
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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