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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Can You Keep a Secret? is a romcom based on a popular novel by Sophie Kinsella. The film explores the idea that we hide who we really are from other people, thinking they'd reject or ridicule us if they knew our true selves. It shows that communicating and sharing vulnerabilities are tools that can bring couples together -- but so, it suggests, is Champagne. After drinking too much, main character Emma (Alexandra Daddario) reveals her secrets to a stranger, which he finds appealing. Emma has a couple of workplace romances, including secretly dating the founder of the company. Characters are in their late 20s/early 30s, and there are many sexual situations, plus innuendo and blunt gesturing; they also curse ("f--k," "s--t,"etc.). The supporting cast is notably diverse.
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What's the story?
In CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?, when her plane seems like it's about to crash, Emma (Alexandra Daddario) confesses her secrets to the handsome stranger sitting next to her (Tyler Hoechlin). They happily survive, but the next day, the same man walks into her workplace, and Emma is shocked to discover that he's the mysterious absentee CEO of her company. Uh-oh!
Is it any good?
This romcom lacks both polish and information, but the plot points, dialogue, and characters suggest that the novel is a must-read. Not that Can You Keep a Secret? doesn't try hard -- it does. And no one tries harder than Daddario (who's also an executive producer): She's believable as the awkward, mousy Emma, who can't believe that a handsome, successful man is interested in her. And overall, the film is a strong example of diversity. What's really remarkable is how unremarkably the story includes a mix of races, sexualities, and genders in all of its roles (including Black transgender actress Laverne Cox as a wonderful boss who's commanding yet caring). You don't even think about it, and it's not seen as special -- it just is. It's that kind of representation that eventually changes the world.
And it makes sense, because that's the moral of this story: Be comfortable in your skin, because what makes you unique is what makes you lovable. That's a message that today's teens need to hear in a world in which social media encourages them to show the filtered, Photoshopped, happy version of themselves. Here, we get dancing lawyers, a body-positive roommate, and a boyfriend who unapologetically goes pantsless in safe spaces. All are embracing who they are no matter what others think -- after all, the person who will fall in love with you will fall in love with you. Can You Keep a Secret? provides both laugh-out-loud moments and cringey ones. It could be much better, but it deserves praise for its positive messages and representations that come through loud and clear.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the balance of revealing and concealing personal information. Is there information you should keep to yourself? Can everyone be trusted with your secrets? Why is communication important in successful relationships?
The film hinges on two people keeping each other's secrets. Why is it important to not break a trust, even if you think it's not important? How does Emma demonstrate self-control, even when she's been hurt? Can friends, in an effort to be encouraging, sometimes lead us down the wrong path?
Why is it important to see diverse characters and role models in the media? Do you think a female director and female director of photography are better at telling a woman's story -- or does it matter?
Do you think dating co-workers is OK? What if people are at opposite ends of the company hierarchy -- does that make a difference? Why?
- In theaters: September 13, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: October 15, 2019
- Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Laverne Cox
- Director: Elise Duran
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 21, 2020
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