A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Love is not always something that can be planned out, and Emma's efforts to steer people together don't often end up as planned. Instead, love seems to sneak up on people without her aid. Even upon Emma, to her great surprise. Although much of the film is focused on planning, gossiping, and debating the merits of various relationships, based partly on love, and also on class distinctions, status, and wealth, there are also themes of communication, empathy, and humility.
Positive Role Models
Emma is good-natured and has a kind heart, but is not always sensitive to others. Her main goal seems to be to find suitable partners for the eligible men and women in her social circle, which means she spends a good deal of time gossiping about other people and trying (not always successfully) to interpret how they feel. She often tries to pair off people who have eyes for others, and is reluctant to admit her pairing is less than ideal. Most important, she seems unable to realize that there are people who might be interested in her.
Violence & Scariness
Two genteel ladies are roughed up by a band of ruffians, until a gentleman comes to their aid.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No sex, but many, many discussions about matchmaking, and with whom various people would be compatible.
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No swearing. A key point of the film is that people rarely say what they really think, often leading to misunderstandings. People can also make very cutting remarks, cleverly disguised by wit, but barbed nonetheless.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social drinking. A gentleman's ardent, but unappreciated, declaration of love is blamed on an overindulgence in wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Emma is a sweet-natured period film that may not have much appeal to tweens and younger. Teens, especially those enamored of Jane Austen's novels, on which this is based, might find it enormously appealing. It revolves around manners, society, and of course romance. There's much discussion about matchmaking but no onscreen canoodling. The only language issue is that some of the people circle around what they're trying to say without actually saying it, which may be confusing. Expect some social drinking; one character blames a social gaffe on having had too much wine. 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 romantic movie is worthy, warmhearted family entertainment. As Emma, Paltrow is stunning -- funny and charming, but brave enough to give full weight to her character's occasional smallness and snobbery. Toni Collette, Alan Cumming, and Sophie Thompson ( as jabbering spinster Miss Bate) all turn in skilled comic performances.
While the story may seem a bit highbrow to attract a young audience, kids will warm to it. The mysterious behavior of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax will catch their interest, and they'll find characters to identify with, regardless of the occasionally highfalutin dialogue. With its spectacular interiors and gorgeous swaths of English countryside, viewers with reasonable attention spans will find plenty to like. While die-hard Austen fans may cast a vote for the BBC version of Emma, this is a much more appealing version for a general audience.
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.