Hamlet and Hutch

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Hamlet and Hutch Movie Poster Image
Alzheimer's drama has strong messages, mature themes.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Hamlet and Hutch offers positive messages about family ties, caring for others in times of need or ill health, the positive role of dogs in elder care, and the importance of following through with one's goals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adults are largely very caring and present and engaged. A few are portrayed as bad seeds; in one instance, a man steals, drinks, and tries to sell a dog illegally. But the majority of the characters are well-intentioned, kind, compassionate people who are realistically flawed but struggle to do the right thing and act with integrity. There is a particular focus on doing the right thing when the circumstances are difficult.

Violence

Minor peril when an elderly man leaves a gas stove on and children come home to find a funny smell and consider lighting a candle. (They aren't able to find matches.) A man steals a truck and drives recklessly. A man steals a dog and tries to sell it. A couple references a cat dying under strange circumstances in a tanning bed.

Sex

A man and woman kiss briefly.

Language

Minor insulting language, such as "shut up." A few difficult scenes in which a great-grandfather and granddaughter argue about family memories.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man drinks a beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hamlet and Hutch focuses on an aging man's struggle with Alzheimer's and his immediate family's difficulty in taking him in to care for him. It involves a mildly perilous scene of forgetfulness (leaving on a gas stove) that endangers children, some difficult scenes of memory problems, and a companion dog that is stolen. There are heavy themes about familial obligation and the struggle to care for an aging relative at home when the option is putting him or her in an assisted living facility. But overall there are strongly positive messages about family, intergenerational relationships, and the role of pets and art in giving meaning to our lives.

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What's the story?

Papa Hutch (Burt Reynolds) is a Broadway star well past his glory days when he finds himself living with his granddaughter Tatum (Terri Vaughn) and her daughter Liz (Emma Rayne Lyle). What could be a chance at rekindling familial connection becomes fraught when it's clear that Hutch is struggling with Alzheimer's and proving to be a difficult addition to this single mom's family.

Is it any good?

HAMLET AND HUTCH provides some good family fodder. It explores the complications of intergenerational family ties in a way that's direct and honest but not too dark and manages to blend a lot of layers: elder care issues, the role of dogs in elder care, the issues of being a single mom, and the importance of hobbies and art, particularly as we get older, in giving us a sense of connectedness and community. That said, these are still heavy themes -- past complications in family life surface, from bad relationships between parents and children to issues left unresolved when parents pass away. Lots of good substance here, but best for older kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Alzheimer's. Do you know anyone with Alzheimer's? Do you think the movie portrays it realistically? Why, or why not?

  • How do dogs help the elderly? What do you think they can offer that people can't?

  • The film has a strong message about following one's commitments. What commitments have you followed through on? What was it like? How did it make you feel to finish something important?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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