A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Grandma creates an unusual mix of grit and warmth in its story about a grandmother and granddaughter who forge a bond in a crisis. The high school student is pregnant, but she doesn't want to have the baby and needs financial help to address her situation. The topics are tough, but there's also a lot of heart here. Expect lots of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), non-explicit talk about teen sex, and some drinking/references to getting high -- as well as plenty of affecting moments that show a woman who's desperately trying to connect but not exactly sure how to do so.
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What's the story?
Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) is a once-celebrated poet and college professor who's lost interest in most of the things that make life rewarding since the death of her beloved partner, Vi. Even a loving relationship with a much younger woman (Judy Greer) hasn't helped much, and brittle, cruel Elle winds up leaving her. Then comes the day when Elle's teenage granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), arrives, unannounced, asking to borrow $630 for an abortion. Elle doesn't have that kind of cash -- she just paid off all her debts, leaving her with little left, and cut up her credit cards. But she helps Sage gather money from old friends (some of whom Elle shares a complicated history with), all the while confronting her own demons. But whatever will Elle's estranged daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) -- Sage's mother -- say once she finds out?
Is it any good?
Tomlin mesmerizes in the role of the combative, confident, and caring GRANDMA, lofting the film to a higher cinematic tier. She's a tour de force all the way, aided by a script that's unafraid to tackle difficult, sometimes controversial subjects with empathy and wisdom. Her foil is Garner, who, for the most part, manages to dish out nearly as much verve and vigor as Tomlin.
The film drags in parts when scenes are allowed to go longer than they need to, and some of the situations in which Elle and Sage find themselves in seem forced. But Grandma is a joy in that it allows Tomlin to show her range -- and a formidable one it is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Grandma deals with the topics of teen sex and unplanned pregnancy. Is it realistic? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.
Elle isn't a typical movie grandmother. What does the film make of her, and how does it portray her? Is she a role model? Why do you think Sage goess to Elle for help? Why didn't she go to her mother?
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