A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Annie acts like a typical sullen tween when she finds herself shipped off to spend the summer with her grandfather. She sneaks out of the house, attempts to run away, and takes the boat she promised her grandfather that she wouldn't touch. However, she soon learns that her actions have consequences and makes amends for her behavior. There's a frightening scene where Annie almost drowns, as well as a spooky scene in a dark wooded area. A character is devastated by the death of his daughter. Annie becomes upset when she finds out her parents are considering putting Grandfather Donald in a retirement home -- you may want to have a conversation with your kids about the different ways people take care of their elderly relatives.
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What's the story?
It's finally summer, and 12-year-old Annie Lamm (Jordan-Claire Green) has big plans: hanging out in New York with friends and flirting with boys. She's horrified when her parents (Lea Thompson and Thomas Gibson) ship her off to Hilton Head to stay with her Grandfather Donald (Paul Dooley), whom she barely knows. Grandfather's "beautiful house right by the beach" is in bad shape, and Annie couldn't have less in common with him. Bored out of her mind, she decides to take a bus back to the city, but her escape fails and she ends up back at her grandfather's house. His ability to forgive her makes Annie see him in a new light. As she starts to make more of an effort to get to know her grandfather, she finds that they have more in common than she thought and she gains a new respect for him. But just as she's settling in, her parents arrive intent on putting Grandfather Donald in a retirement home. Annie must find a way to convince them to let her grandfather stay in the place he loves.
Is it any good?
Kids will definitely relate to Annie, who is a little bratty at the beginning of the movie. Like any tween, she wants to spend her summer hanging out with friends, and she resents that she's being shipped off. Adults will empathize with Annie's parents, who face the dilemma of an elderly parent who isn't ready to give up his independent life. Everyone will enjoy the gorgeous South Carolina setting, and those familiar with Hilton Head will get a kick out of seeing local legend Gregg Russell as a carpenter with a secret.
Overall, COME AWAY HOME is a fantastic film to share with your kids. It's refreshingly free of profanity, sex, and violence, and the message about the importance of family is always a valuable one. Warning: Although the movie ends on a positive note, you may want to keep the tissues handy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Annie learns about herself by the end of the summer, and what she learns from her grandfather. Why does Grandfather Donald's gift mean so much to Annie? Kids may be inspired to talk to older family members and find out what fascinating stories they have to share. Some children may even decide to take up chess!
- In theaters: April 29, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: February 5, 2008
- Cast: Jordan-Claire Green, Lea Thompson, Paul Dooley
- Director: Doug McKeon
- Studio: American Family Movies
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mature themes and a brief frightening scene
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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