Fried Green Tomatoes

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Fried Green Tomatoes Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming '90s classic has some language, violence.
  • PG-13
  • 1991
  • 137 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie makes pointed commentary on female empowerment. The movie also portrays the elderly in a positive light -- their lives, and the stories of their lives, should be treasured and cherished for the wisdom that it can be. Racism, domestic abuse, and gender inequality is shown against the backdrop of Great Depression-era rural Alabama.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Evelyn, inspired by Ninny's stories of Idgy and Ruth, learns to stand up for herself, to demand and expect the best out of her life and relationships. Ninny's character is the opposite of the typical stereotype of the elderly. Idgy is a free-spirited woman who defies the conventions of Great Depression-era rural Alabama in order to live life on her terms. 

Violence

One character is hit and killed by a train (offscreen), 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. Evelyn attends classes on female empowerment in which the instructor talks about masturbation. 

Language

"N" word used several times. "A--holes," "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "damn," "hell." 

Consumerism

Krispy Kreme donuts. A six-pack of Budweiser clearly shown. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Idgy drinks, smokes a cigar, and gambles. Ruth gets drunk. Drunken behavior in a bar. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 movie in which a dissatisfied housewife is inspired to change by the exciting stories told to her by an elderly woman in a nursing home. 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 subtext is that Idgy and Ruth are lesbian partners, though the film never shows anything that would make that clear. There's occasional profanity, including the "N" word, and drinking and cigarette smoking. While taking a female empowerment class, the instructor and Evelyn's friend make reference to masturbation. The film offers plenty of comeuppance for the bad guys, though, and focuses on the empowerment of women through their bold actions. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Adult 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.
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 entert... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 21, 2008

Great Movie!!

This movie is about an old lady that tells stories about her exciting life with her friend. The language isn't that bad the worst it can get is the b-word.... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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 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.

  • How do you think Idgy and Ruth's relationship would be handled today as compared to when this movie came out in 1991? 

  • How did this movie use the "story within a story" form to show how the experiences of the past can illuminate and have relevance to the lives of today? 

Movie details

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