A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Main positive messages are that president and first lady should care about public service and that all Americans should know more about how the government works. But also misleading messages about protesters being paid by those with political interests.
Positive Role Models
First lady cares deeply about dignity of her role and what it entails, wants to go back to teaching so she can educate more students about how government works. But she also holds onto grudges, doesn't want president to date a woman who happens to be friends with former political rival. Aside from one supporting character, all central characters are White.
Violence & Scariness
President dies in front of his wife in a tearful, hospital-set farewell.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting, dancing, a couple of kisses.
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"Stupid," "old," "dumb."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that First Lady is part political drama, part romantic comedy, and part Prince and the Pauper-style fairy tale. It centers on a first lady of the United States (Nancy Stafford) who's widowed toward the end of her husband's presidency in a tearful hospital-set sequence. She's then convinced to stay on as the newly appointed president's "running mate." The movie at first seems like it's not about politics -- it doesn't mention existing political parties -- but it eventually becomes overtly ultra-conservative, to the point of claiming that those who protest the U.S. government's policies are paid to do so. The "paid protesters" is a much debunked far-right talking point, but it's a major plot point of the movie. There's also some mild insult language ("stupid," "old," "dumb"), wine drinking by adults, flirting, and a couple of kisses. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although political parties are never mentioned in writer-director Nina May's forgettable dramedy, its far-right themes ultimately overwhelm the story. That said, it's unclear to whom First Lady is targeted, given its swings between the overtly political "save the dignity of the White House from paid protesters" storyline and the Princess Diaries-meets-Prince and the Pauper subplot. You see, Kathryn's office agrees to house a fictional European princess and her personal bodyguard (Corbin Bernsen), who's actually the princess's grandfather and king of said fake country. Decades earlier, King Max (another widower) pretended not to be the prince in order to hang out with then college-aged Kate, the daughter of a high-ranking diplomat. The problem with all of this is that the movie's production design is so poor that audiences will spot the vinyl stickers used as presidential seals and the various ways cheap sets are supposed to be the West Wing.
Aside from Stafford, who takes her role seriously, the acting is mostly phoned in (Bernsen's accent is cringeworthy, and most of the administration staff don't come across as professional actors). There are also way too many plot lines. In addition to Kate and Max's will-they-or-won't-they romance, the new president -- who also has a conveniently dead spouse -- gets his own blossoming relationship with a government employee whom Kathryn objects to because she's friends with her rival from across the aisle. Then there's the movie's most ludicrous of stories: the one about "professional protesters" being paid to chant outside the White House. This is straight out of the often debunked fringe-right media narrative that young political protesters are paid by liberal billionaires. The fact that this is such a prominent theme of First Lady makes it clear that the filmmakers want audiences to believe it's true (a brief internet search around May confirms this). This isn't a director making a movie so much as producing propaganda.
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.