A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hope Springs -- a romantic comedy about a sixtysomething couple trying to save their 31-year marriage -- isn't very likely to appeal to most tweens and teens. Although there's no nudity in the movie's one actual love scene, plenty of sex talk (positions, preferences, erectile dysfunction) is part of the conversation as the characters explore the reasons they're no longer intimate. And there are a few scenes of passionate kissing, foreplay, and a humorous attempt at a public sex act. Language is fairly mild except for several uses of "goddamn," "Jesus," and "Christ." The couple drinks during a dinner date and gets a bit tipsy. Overall, this is a pro-marriage story that encourages husbands and wives to appreciate each other and hold on to why they were drawn to each other in the first place.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Empty Nester Kay (Meryl Streep) has been married to Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) for 31 years, and her days (and nights) are filled with a boring domestic monotony that's sucking the life out of her. After reading a famous marriage counselor's self-help book, Kay decides to enroll in Dr. Feld's (Steve Carell) intensive week-long workshop in faraway HOPE SPRINGS, Maine -- much to her husband's dismay. Once there, Arnold reluctantly agrees to attend, but he finds Dr. Feld's methods too invasive, while Kay is desperate to do everything possible to rekindle the intimacy she and Arnold shared earlier in their marriage.
Is it any good?
Watching Streep and Jones on screen is like experiencing a master class in acting. Here are two of Hollywood's most esteemed performers playing a couple whose marriage is in need of an everyday type of repair. Their problems don't revolve around something melodramatic like adultery and betrayal; their issues very authentically explore the myriad ways in which a husband and wife can disappoint and alienate each other after three decades together. Director David Frankel doesn't shy away from zooming in on Streep and Jones' lined faces as they reveal the hurts and truths about their nearly broken but hopefully salvageable love story.
On Dr. Feld's couch, Streep and Jones are fantastic, as is the surprisingly serious Carell (who for once isn't playing the manic funnyman). But once Arnold and Kay head back out into the charming coastal town of Hope Springs, things swing from the humorous (like Kay's tragicomic attempt at fulfilling a sexual fantasy at a movie theater) to the cliched (Kay runs away from Arnold to go drink at a local bar). Although it's not the perfect cinematic revelation you'd hope to see from Streep and Jones, Hope Springs is a tender look at what it takes to really fight for a floundering marriage.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Hope Springs deals with a lot of mature issues -- especially the married couple's sex life. What is the movie's message about long-lasting marriages? How does counseling help Arnold and Kay?
How is Arnold and Kay's sixtysomething love story different than romantic comedies about younger couples?
What audience do you think this movie is targeted at? How can you tell? Does it succeed in reaching them?
- In theaters: August 8, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2012
- Cast: Meryl Streep, Steve Carell, Tommy Lee Jones
- Director: David Frankel
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic content involving sexuality
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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