A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Falling Inn Love is a romantic comedy that follows a hard-working California woman to a New Zealand countryside after some setbacks in her career and personal life. It's a typical "fish-out-of-water" story, which delivers the popular and oft-told messages about the joys of small-town life and values versus the high-energy, competitive world of the big city. Viewers will be treated to the usual contemporary romcom players: the successful boyfriend who doesn't want to commit; a rough-hewn, handsome young man still grieving for his lost love; the happily-established gay couple; and an assortment of other rustic folks. There are some mildly suspenseful minutes when a fire breaks out in a local establishment (no violence, no injuries). Wine and beer are served in social settings and the heroine drowns her sorrows with a bottle of wine in one early sequence. Romantic scenes include kisses and a playful beach montage with the leading lady in a bikini.
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What's the story?
Young San Francisco career woman Gabriela Diaz (Christine Milian) has had a really rough day -- she's dumped her shallow boyfriend and is newly unemployed in FALLING INN LOVE. Depressed and feeling sorry for herself that night, she enters an essay contest; the prize is a picturesque small-town inn set in a New Zealand countryside. When she wins, Gabriela's astonished, but with only a few second thoughts, decides to take a chance and make the trip. After a "meet cute" with Jake (Adam Demos), a local contractor (which ends in some spirited sparring), Gabriela discovers that her prize is, in fact, an inn that's literally falling apart, not "picturesque" as advertised. Disappointed but game, Gabriela sets out to turn her situation -- and the inn -- around. The setting is beautiful, the folks she meets are friendly, and she's got nothing to lose. Only a scheming bed & breakfast owner may stand in her way.
Is it any good?
Without a single inventive character or original situation, the film almost succeeds on the merits of wholesomeness alone, but the stale final sequence makes it finally irredeemable. There's more romance than comedy, unless seeing someone repeatedly being scared by the unexpected presence of a goat makes for laughs. And while it's fun to see a person (or "inn") go from ugly duckling to swan, Falling Inn Love skims over the beauties of transformation and avoids any mention of the challenges of funding the protagonist's pricey project, so it's simply a means of advancing the plot. Taking center stage are the quirky folksy folks, and the "girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back" through-line. Even that is made is made silly by the ridiculousness of what separates them. Okay for a diversion, but otherwise not recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the New Zealand setting in Falling Inn Love. Such settings can be considered "characters" in movies. In what ways did the New Zealand village help advance the movie's plot? How did both San Francisco and New Zealand help define the movie's messages? Why do you think small-town life always seems to be treated so favorably in movies?
In the movie, Gabriela says "Leap and the net will appear." What does she mean? Do you agree with her? Explain your answer.
What is a "predictable" story? When did you know how Falling Inn Love would end? Even when we know what the ending will be, it's often fun to take the journey with the movie's characters. Was Gabriela's story different and interesting enough to overcome the predictability factor? Why or why not?
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