Hope Floats Movie Poster Image

Hope Floats



Redemptive drama ready made for family viewing.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 114 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Birdee grabs her daughter Bernice's arm during an argument. A classmate beats Bernice up after class.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Birdee works in a 1-hour photo lab.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, Birdee gets drunk at the local bar and stays out all night.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie deals with the separation of Birdee Pruitt and her husband Bill after Birdee learns that he has been having an affair with her best friend on a national talk show. The separation is traumatic to the couple's daughter, Bernice, and the film may be difficult for children who have had to deal with their parents' separation or divorce. Characters drink and argue. Sexual activity is referenced, but neither shown nor discussed in detail. The film also deals frankly with death.

What's the story?

When Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock) finds out about her husband's affair on a national talk show, she packs up her daughter Bernice (Mae Whitman) and heads back to Smithville, TX to live with her mother Ramona (Gena Rowlands). Back home, Birdie must confront the folks who have known her and her ex-husband their whole lives. As the town wonders out loud what might have gone wrong between the star quarterback and the beauty queen, Birdie tries to make peace with her mother and find a job. Of course, this being a romantic comedy, Birdie has to fall in love. The lucky man in this particular story is Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.), who has moved back to Smithville from California and is working as a handyman.

Is it any good?


For the most part, it's easy, unchallenging entertainment; nothing's really wrong with the film, it just lacks distinction. If HOPE FLOATS has any lesson at its core, it's that there's nothing like your hometown to humble you. Forest Whitaker's direction manages to avoid any serious pitfalls. The greatest attraction the film has to offer is the inimitable Gena Rowlands as Birdie's eccentric, quick-witted mother.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difficulty Birdee has moving home. Birdee calls her mother "the town joke" and says she was embarrassed of her mother as a child. Do other characters in the film seem to see Ramona Calvert as a joke? How does moving home humble Birdie? Families may also want to discuss Ramona Calvert's death, as it may be troubling to young viewers.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 29, 1998
DVD/Streaming release date:November 3, 1998
Cast:Gena Rowlands, Harry Connick Jr., Sandra Bullock
Director:Forest Whitaker
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Run time:114 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic elements

This review of Hope Floats was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Three-hanky special, but with lots of laughs, too.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byClaire345 February 22, 2012

Terrible Parenting

I think this movie has a terrible message for parenting style. Birdee, the mother, is selfish, she does not support her daughter during this traumatic experience, and deals terribly with her depression by hurting her entire family. She does not appreciate all her mother has done for her and her daughter. Birdee is also completely unaware of what her daughter is going through at school and does not inquire as to why Bernice was upset afterwards.
Parent of a 1 year old Written bymjh February 15, 2009
Teen, 14 years old Written byFutureCritic July 23, 2011

Waste of Time

This movie was just stupid. I hated all of the characters. There's really nothing left to say other than Sandra Bullock can't do a half decent southern accent.
What other families should know
Great messages