A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Appreciate your family (even if they annoy you). Honesty is important, even when it takes a while for the truth to come out. Communication makes us stronger. Connections matter, whether in person or virtual. The story addresses grief/loss, though not deeply, and it could be seen as minimizing the emotional impact of fostering/adoption on kids.
Positive Role Models
While most of the squabbling family members are just flawed humans who are trying to manage the rough patches of life as best they can, one character is shown to have gone above and beyond for the family, making a good choice in a difficult situation.
The central family is White. A Black funeral director/attorney has nearly as much screen time as the family members and is depicted positively. Women are on par with men, but many characters are "types" -- e.g., the bossy perfectionist daughter always thinking about her appearance, the flighty sister, the aggressive brother, the sassy grandma, etc. Positively portrays the love/relationship between an older same-sex couple.
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Violence & Scariness
Physical fight that's more comical wrestling than actual violence. Adults are shown playing a shooter video game (kills are discussed but not shown). Arguments/disagreements. Characters are present (virtually) for a family member's peaceful death and deal with grief/loss (a teen has lost both mother and grandmother).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief references to sex and a teen's use of pornography, played for laughs.
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Strong language includes "a--hole," "bitch," "dammit," "goddamn," "hell," "t-t" and quite a few uses of "f--k." "Jesus!" used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
Many mentions of Zoom, since characters frequently meet using the software. Apple products seen throughout, indicating likely product placement. Task Rabbit mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen vapes marijuana and urges his mother to accept his use of it (she makes reference to him not sharing it). Reference to someone drinking whiskey and another character making craft beer. Character shown drinking wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Family Squares is a pandemic-set ensemble comedy that takes place almost entirely over Zoom. The impetus for the characters' online gathering is to be "with" family matriarch Mabel (June Squibb) on her death bed. While the film recognizes grief -- particularly in the case of a teen struggling with losing her grandmother just a year after her mother's death -- it doesn't explore it deeply. Instead, it focuses on the family secrets exposed in Mabel's pre-taped goodbye messages. Family members bicker, tease, and take digs at each other, but what Mabel, and thus the filmmaker, wants audiences to take away is that we need to appreciate our family members, even if they get under our skin. Strong language includes "s--t" "and "f--k," a teen vapes marijuana, and an adult drinks wine. There are references to additional drinking, as well as to sex and a teen's use of pornography. Parents of foster or adopted children may want to preview this before sharing, as there's some potentially upsetting content. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The emotional hardship of being far from home during a crisis has never been more relatable, but viewers may need more distance from quarantine life to really appreciate this pandemic dramedy. Writer-director Stephanie Laing likely anticipated that by the time her dysfunctional family film came out, COVID-19 would be in the rearview mirror and we could look back and laugh. But at the time of release, virtual meetings are still the norm, so the floating-heads-in-computer-squares format is somewhat difficult to enjoy.
Still, Laing's effort is a time capsule representing what life was like for many in 2020–21, discomfort and all. It recognizes the chaos of online school, the appeal of RV escapism, garages converted into home offices, the anxiety of isolated teens, the loneliness of singles, and the too-much-togetherness of couples. Most present, though, is the difficulty that so many people faced of having a family member fall ill or even die and not being able to be there to say goodbye. Much like a Zoom meeting, your interest in Family Squares may wane the longer it goes on, but Laing and her cast of top-notch actors (including Judy Greer, Ann Dowd, Margo Martindale, Henry Winkler, and many more) remind us that while family connections are sometimes spotty, they strengthen when you get closer to the source.
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.