A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Family Weekend delivers a simple and important message about parents who realize too late that ignoring their children can signficantly damage their family. That said, the takeaway is packaged in a comedy/drama that centers on teenage Emily, who drives it home with some pretty questionable methods: She drugs her mom and dad, ties them to chairs, and spends two days trying to teach them the error of their ways. There's some violence (the tying up, someone getting hit over the head), some sexual references (including a character who collects both gay and straight porn magazines), and moderate swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), a character smoking a joint in one scene, and a meal with some unusually potent wine.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When her parents miss another important event, fed-up Emily (Olesya Rulin) decides that their relationship is in dire need of rescue. Taking matters into her own hands, she drugs her mother (Kristin Chenoweth) and father (Matthew Modine), ties them to chairs, and begins a FAMILY WEEKEND re-education effort. As Emily and her three siblings explain how ignored they feel, their high-powered executive mom and distracted-painter dad slowly begin to realize how their self-centered behavior has damaged their once-happy home.
Is it any good?
Family Weekend has an important lesson at its core, but it's delivered in a way that's both formulaic and trite. Emily's kidnapping plot is so over the top that it's hard to take seriously, but it's easy to see where it's going. The bitter, distracted parents, forced to spend time together, start to remember why they love each other in a scene that's that's not especially convincing. And Emily's siblings each have a single trait (a fixation on old films, an evolving sexuality) that makes them easy to script, rather than making them fully fleshed out characters.
Modine and Chenoweth are at their most convincing as bad parents -- he's a bored slacker who prefers nap time over interacting with kids, and she's an executive who spends more time talking to her mobile phone than her offspring. But once they have to become real parents, their portrayals fall flat, and so does the film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Family Weekend's message. What's the core takeaway? Does it come through despite Emily's iffy actions?
Do you think the family in the movie seems realistic? Or is the portrayal of distracted parents too cliched?
Why is Emily so upset with her parents? Is her anger justified? What do you think about her plan to fix her dysfunctional family?
- In theaters: March 29, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: April 23, 2013
- Cast: Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Modine, Olesya Rulin, Shirley Jones
- Director: Benjamin Epps
- Studio: ARC Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some sexual content and brief drug use
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