A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Appreciate your loved ones while they're still around. Loving demands that we face the fear of losing each other. Acceptance makes many difficult things easier to bear.
Positive Role Models
Kirsten is a devoted daughter. Dick is an ideal companion and collaborator, easygoing, cheerful, compliant, and appreciative.
Violence & Scariness
Kirsten stages her father's mock deaths, creating freak accident scenarios. She shows the behind-the-scenes tricks that result in real-looking scenes, but the finished sequences do look real. In one, Dick spurts fake blood from a neck wound. In another, an air conditioner falls on him. In another he has a heart attack. Dick survived a real heart attack years ago.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Dick takes a number of prescription medications.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dick Johnson is Dead is filmmaker Kirsten Johnson's attempt to cope with the inevitable loss of her beloved 86-year-old father, Dick, a sunny and supportive presence in her life. With his cooperation, she stages a variety of death scenes with stunt men standing in for Dick, who cheerfully participates. She shows the behind-the-scenes tricks that result in real-looking scenes, but the finished sequences do look real. In one, Dick spurts fake blood from a neck wound. In another, an air conditioner falls on him. In another, he has a heart attack. She holds a full funeral for him before he dies, so he can participate. The discussions of his weakening health and declining memory are frank and compassionate, but it's his optimistic and loving outlook and his daughter's determination to create a funny and lasting document of his last years that make this something unusual and universal. This is an odd and quirky introduction into discussions about death. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This wise and goofy film an inspired piece saturated with love and appreciation of a daughter preparing to lose someone she loves dearly. Many will relate to the pain of such an inevitable loss, which is why Dick Johnson is Dead works so well. Though we all know that everyone dies, we spend so much time and energy deliberately avoiding thoughts about this reality. Kirsten conquers death over and over as she "kills" her dad, then lifts him up from the aftermath unharmed. The mock funeral is the film's most moving sequence, an unexpected gut punch and counterweight to the whimsical "deaths" she's filmed. Dick's best friend breaks down as he pre-lives delivering the eulogy for his friend. This sends the loud, clear message that we need to tell the people we love how much we appreciate them while they're still here with us.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.