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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Equitable division of work in a family leads to better outcomes for all family members. Other, less obvious messages include benefit to men of overcoming gender expectations, and promoting idea that the federal government needs to pay for family leave and provide childcare.
Positive Role Models
Author-turned-movement-leader Eve Rodsky saw an unfair work balance in her own family, realized it was a widespread problem, and set out to create a solution. The documentary features experts, activists, and families who are taking time to amplify and live the message of sharing work equally.
Experts, authorities, and families reflect diversity in race, language, religion, economic status, sexuality, and ability. Discussion covers the challenges of gender expectations of women and men. Men are shown as sensitive, with a desire to grow, change, and be equal partners and active, involved fathers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Joke about a breast pump sounding like sexual sounds. Joke fantasizing about infidelity, using the word "f--king."
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Strong language pops up throughout, primarily "s--t" and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Proctor & Gamble and Apple helped fund the film, but no product placement is evident, although a laptop with Apple logo is seen briefly before camera angle shifts. The film could be considered a big promotion for Rodsky's book.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a brief clip from a TV show, bottles of alcohol are seen around the characters as if they've been drinking. It appears as though one of the subjects is drinking white wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fair Play is a documentary that explores gender roles in relation to family workload. Using facts, studies, examples of real families, and a multitude of experts, writer-director Jennifer Siebel Newsom lays out how dated gender norms can create stress, unhealthy outcomes, and broken relationships within a family. The movie is adapted from Eve Rodsky's same-named book, and the author serves as narrator, explaining memorable points like "Toxic Time Messages" (i.e., "she makes less money, therefore her time is worth less") and how it's women who typically keep track of the household's invisible to-do list. Siebel Newsom makes it clear that the family labor-division gap isn't exclusive to any single group of people: She assembles families and experts representing a wide range of economic status, race, and ability. While the featured couples are all married and heterosexual, partners in LGBTQ+ marriages offer contrast to show the parity in domestic responsibilities when traditional gender roles are less of an issue. Don't expect most teens to be interested, as it's all presented as adults speaking to adults, including quite a bit of conversational cursing ("s--t" and "f--k") and some sexually suggestive jokes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For many people, especially women, Rodsky's message about the importance of work division in a family feels very validating. Fair Play acknowledges that women often shoulder most of the work in a family led by a heterosexual couple, leading to exhaustion and resentment. And that labor gap often morphs into something like an abandoned teeter-totter once children enter the picture. But before men go running from the room, know that director Jennifer Siebel Newsom still has your back. Her filmography demonstrates her passion for releasing people from unfair gender expectations, and she does that here, too. Rodsky's husband, Seth, owns up to his lack of participation and then takes steps to work with his wife to model how to be a more equitable partner.
All of that said, Siebel Newson meanders a bit from her point. She drifts into related areas that are equally important, but that waters down the primary message. Siebel Newsom (who's married to California Governor Gavin Newsom), her co-producing partner Hello Sunshine (led by Reese Witherspoon), and financier P&G collectively have the reach to get many powerful, intelligent, authoritative women to sit down for interviews. But it's just too many talking heads more or less saying the same thing, and it becomes a bit of a repetitive blur. On the other hand, Rodsky is a dynamic and engaging personality, and the families who tell their stories are mesmerizing. Through it all, viewers will watch with a measuring stick, gauging how they're doing in comparison to others. Rodsky makes some actionable recommendations, but it seems that for those looking for a full outline of how to reshape their family dynamic, you have to buy the book.
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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.
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