Fried Green Tomatoes Movie Poster Image

Fried Green Tomatoes

(i)

 

Stirring, sizzling serving of female empowerment.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1991
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Idgy steals food and a car and says bad things about church, but she's also kind-hearted, taking care of people who can't afford to pay and helping a homeless man. A preacher lies for Idgy and Big George. Evelyn smashes into another car several times, but also empowers herself by getting a job and eating healthy. Strong messages about friendship.

Violence

One character is hit and killed by a train (off-screen) at the beginning of the film, and another is almost killed by a train. Ruth's husband is abusive. He kicks her down a flight of stairs when she's pregnant, and viewers see her with a black eye. A KKK group whips Big George and threatens to steal Ruth's baby and hurt Idgy. Frank hits Sipsey and Smokey Lonesome. A character is murdered off-screen.

Sex

Evelyn fantasizes about answering her front door wearing only cellophane. There's an intense sexual connection between Idgy and Ruth, though nothing sexual or romantic happens on-screen.

Language

Considerable salty language, including "hell," "damn," "g-ddammit," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "fat bitch," "assholes," "bastards." Some KKK members also refer to African-Americans as the "N" word several times.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Idgy drinks, smokes a cigar, and gambles. Ruth gets drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film is heartwarming but also contains many violent and scary scenes that are probably too much for young kids. Several characters die, including main characters, which may be difficult for sensitive kids or kids who have lost a loved one. The KKK has a presence in the film, whipping one character and threatening another. One main character suffers spousal abuse while pregnant. The film offers plenty of comeuppance for the bad guys, though, and focuses on the empowerment of women through their bold actions. Also of note: The subtext is that Idgy and Ruth are lesbian partners, though the film never shows anything that would make that clear.

What's the story?

Evelyn (Kathy Bates) is a repressed Southern housewife who downs a dozen candy bars a day to cope with her failing marriage when she meets the frail Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) at a senior citizens' home. Ninny tells Evelyn the story of Idgy (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth's (Mary-Louise Parker) life together in the tiny Alabama town of Whistle Stop. Nonconformist Idgy, a young woman prone to wearing men's clothes and gambling, and God-fearing Ruth face abusive husbands, the KKK, and even a murder rap together. Through it all, they raise Ruth's son, Buddy Jr., and learn how important it is to protect those you love no matter what.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Like all good Southern gothic stories, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES serves up a heaping portion of tall tales, scary situations, and explorations of social issues. The story unfolds in ellipses and fable-like flashbacks that make it both spellbinding and frightening, teaching viewers the importance of altruism.

Fried Green Tomatoes wouldn't be the long-standing favorite it is without the phenomenal performances of some of the day's best actors. Bates, Tandy, Cicely Tyson, and Parker bring this tale to life. They also raise questions about whether the way we deal with issues like homelessness and racial intolerance is much better today.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about empowerment in the characters' lives. Many had to stray from the good opinions of others to feel empowered. Is ignoring your critics a good idea sometimes? Was it a good idea for Idgy? Was it good for Ruth? Why or why not? Ruth is also abused by her husband, which may be a good opportunity for parents to talk to kids about what's acceptable in relationships and how to identify someone who's abusive.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 12, 1991
DVD/Streaming release date:December 15, 1998
Cast:Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker
Director:John Avnet
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence, thematic intensity.

This review of Fried Green Tomatoes was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Thelma and Louise Poster Image
    Now-classic feminist road movie best for very mature teens.
  • The Shawshank Redemption Poster Image
    Gritty prison tale has positive messages, lots of profanity.
  • Big Fish Poster Image
    Delightful, sad father-son story for teens and up.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written bydanya t November 9, 2014

Phenomenal movie....

This was an amazing movie...though it does have some violence it is all easily explained and simple to follow. It has a very positive message and is very entertaining!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written byLowe's man February 22, 2016

on the right side of history

Those who think or like to think that things were hunky-dory in this country before the 1960s and think that this was a nation filled with solid marriages until then will not be comforted by this movie, as it shows that spousal abuse and other problems that we associate with modern life existed in the 1930s as well. Ruth and Idgy were very brave to stand up to Ruth's abusive husband Frank. Women were empowered at a time when it was not popular for women to be portrayed this way. While racism was tolerated then, those who tolerated such behavior were portrayed in a negative light, as they should've been. Idgy, Ruth and those who championed the rights of blacks were rightly portrayed positively- and this was in the Southeast! Moreover, when Ninnie told Evelyn about her own life, she said that she kept her retarded son at a time when it would not have been popular or advisable to do so. When Ninnie told the story of Idgy and Ruth to Evelyn, she helped Evelyn deal with her own abusive husband. It must also be said that Ruth helped Idgy come out of herself. Idgy was there for Ruth until the day she died. This movie gives viewers a rough but general idea of life in the Southeast in the 1930s, even if in just an isolated case.
Parent Written byconstantvigilance June 26, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Good movie for older teens. Short scenes of domestic abuse and racial violence make the movie a little intense. A few sexual comments.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex