Gordon Family Tree

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Gordon Family Tree Movie Poster Image
Sweet, slow-paced family film about finding your path.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The importance of making a living doing things you love and are passionate about is a central theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Freemont Gordon learns to find his way and step out of the shadows cast by his famous siblings. He learns to find happiness and fulfillment in doing what he loves and making others happy through his work. His brother Matt, a popular and winning pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, doesn't use his celebrity for selfish gain but sees it as a way to do good in the world.


News footage of a car accident involving one of the central characters.


The Culligan logo is prominently featured on an office water cooler. In one scene, as the main character is shown driving, he holds a coffee cup close to his face; the logo of the coffee shop is shown up close for several seconds.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are shown drinking wine and martinis at an upscale dinner party; no one acts intoxicated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gordon Family Tree is a 2013 movie on the importance of doing what you love, loving what you do, and finding fulfillment in being passionate about your work while also trying to help those who are less fortunate. Although there's nothing to worry about in terms of content, the slow pace and the overall message of finding fulfillment in your life and career make this best for older kids thinking about such matters for the first time and teens and parents looking to find their own way in the world.

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What's the story?

Freemont Gordon (Ryan Schwartzman) has just turned 30. He works as an architect, a job he finds unsatisfying and unfulfilling. He also feels that he is lost in the shadows of a brother who is a popular pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, a sister who's a TV star, and a father who's a successful writer. He meets a woman who's a journalist, and when he inadvertently uncovers her notes on his family and sees next to his name "no story," he's moved to quit his job, get in his car, and leave his home in Los Angeles to go on a road trip. At the same time, he's inspired by the great feelings he has after building a tree house for his former boss's kids. On the road, Freemont meets families and offers to do odd jobs to earn his keep but also has surprises for all the kids he meets along the way: a treasure map leading to their own tree houses. By doing this, Freemont sees a new career unfold and a chance to do work that he loves, is passionate about, and helps make the world a better place.

Is it any good?

Despite its glacial pace, the movie’s overall positive message should resonate with teens and parents trying to figure how to "do what you love and love what you do" when choosing a career. It's a "message movie" for people who like message movies.

For those not necessarily looking for a movie with a message, the action and the story itself don't always carry the day unless montages of the main character taking "selfies" in front of different states' "Welcome to" signs are something you enjoy. Furthermore, the movie doesn't take into account the reality that many people go through changes -- and reality issues came up time and time again with Eat, Pray, Love -- as most people can't simply quit their jobs and their lives because they're unfulfilled and hit the road. Still, if you're looking for a different choice for family movie night, Gordon Family Tree is a fine pick.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message. How can you "do what you love and love what you do"?

  • Have you ever felt like you were in the shadow of a sibling or friend? How did you handle the situation?

  • If you could do any job in the world, what would it be, and why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Themes & Topics

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