Helicopter Mom

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Helicopter Mom Movie Poster Image
Comedy about overly involved mom has a little edge.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 81 minutes

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Parents should love their children unconditionally. Also a cautionary message about imposing a sexual identity on your kid our outing them (as anything!) before they're ready.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maggie obviously loves her son, but she doesn't know when to step away and let him make his own decisions. Lloyd is smart and caring, but he doesn't stand up to his mom's meddling. Max hasn't always been a present father, but he's trying to help Lloyd and Maggie during the end of senior year. Lots of stereotypical assumptions about what gay people like (fashion, theater, etc.).

Violence

A group of bikers insults Lloyd and his mom; their girlfriends chase after Maggie and Lloyd, who run away.

Sex

A boy confused about his sexuality kisses both another boy and then a girl. Divorced parents kiss and spend the night together.

Language

Infrequent use of words including "f-g," "s--t," and "a--hole." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at bars and restaurants. A father lets his 18-year-old son drink at a restaurant, but the son prefers to have water after doing one shot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Helicopter Mom is a comedy about an overly involved single mom who doesn't bother to ask her teen son about his sexual identity before outing him to friends, family, and his entire high school. There are many stereotypical jokes and comments about what being gay means (i.e. loving fashion, opera, theater, Paris, certain kinds of food), but the message is ultimately a positive one about accepting your kids as they are, not how you assume they are or want them to be. Infrequent language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and the slur "f-g"; there's also some drinking, including a father who's OK with his teenage son drinking in his presence (the son declines after one shot). Adults kiss and spend the night together, and a teen boy kisses both another boy and a girl. The movie is a good conversation starter about how not to handle your child's privacy and boundaries.

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What's the story?

HELICOPTER MOM stars Nia Vardalos as Maggie, the titular super-involved mother who thinks she and her high school-senior son, Lloyd (Jason Dolley), are best friends -- when really, she's overbearing, and he can't wait to move away for college. Believing her son is gay (he's not quite sure himself yet), Maggie starts outing him to friends, her ex-husband/Lloyd's father, and the school. She even goes so far as to enter him in a scholarship contest for LGBTQ teens and set him up on blind dates with young men. But once Lloyd is named to the senior prom court, he begins to have feelings for Carrie (Skyler Samuels), confusing himself and angering his mom.

Is it any good?

Vardalos is more cringe-inducing than amusing as a clueless mother who thinks she's helping her son by planning out their hypothetical future as a gay man and his proud mom. And the dialogue borders on ridiculous when she says that she thinks growing old with a fabulous gay man for a son will mean trips to Paris, a well-decorated room in the assisted living facility, and season tickets to the opera. For a movie with an ostensible message about tolerance and unconditional love, these jokes and comments are eye-rollingly stereotypical.

The performers do their best with the material. Vardalos attempts to humanize Maggie, and Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy) is entertaining as her rocker ex, who still loves Maggie and wants to be there for his son. Dolley and Samuels are decent young actors, but they don't have enough chemistry to turn their new friendship into the blossoming romance the movie demands. With parenting styles like "helicopter mom," "tiger mom," and "freerange mom" thrown around so often, it's inevitable to see one of the terms poked fun at, but this storyline doesn't really allow Maggie to grow and evolve into the kind of mother Lloyd needs until it's basically too late.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the term "helicopter mom," and how it's depicted in the movie. What makes Maggie a "helicopter mom"? Discuss whether this is believable behavior and how parenting styles differ in real life. Teens, how would you react if your parents acted like Maggie? Parents, talk to your teens about the best way to set (and recognize) boundaries.

  • What do you think about all the jokes and references to being gay? Did you notice any stereotypes?

  • Do you think more movies should represent LGBTQ teens?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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