Husbands and Wives

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Husbands and Wives Movie Poster Image
Whiny dramedy about marriage has lots of sex, profanity.
  • R
  • 1992
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Marriage is a buffer against loneliness. Marriage is difficult. Some marriages self-destruct after a certain number of years. Even long-married spouses keep secrets from each other to keep the marriage going.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A man with masochistic tendencies is drawn to women with mental health issues. Spouses are extremely critical of one another. A married professor is taken with an adoring student. He kisses her but goes no further. A man is engaged in long-term cheating on his wife. A high-strung woman who denigrates everything melts down when she learns her self-justifying husband is having an affair. Women in their 40s worry that they will not be able to attract men. A teenager has simultaneous multiple affairs with older men.

Violence

A man drags his younger girlfriend out of a party and wrestles her, kicking and screaming, into his car. Later he makes her wait in the car while he goes to his ex-wife to plead to be taken back. Couples throw hurtful zingers at each other.

Sex

A couple is seen, fuzzily and briefly, making love in the dark, and a woman's nipple can be glimpsed. A married man regularly sees a prostitute. Their sexual encounters are not shown. There are references to impotence. A man fantasizes about having sex with his aerobics trainer. Later he leaves his wife for her. A married professor kisses a student but goes no further. A teenager has simultaneous multiple affairs with older men. Discusses adulterous sexual longings, orgasms, impotence, threesomes, lesbian sex, and other intimate details of married life.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "get it up," "hooker," "dick," and "jerking off."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Husbands and Wives is a 1992 Woody Allen movie that looks at marriage and frankly discusses adulterous sexual longings, orgasms, impotence, threesomes, lesbian sex, sex with prostitutes, and other intimate details of married life. Adult characters smoke and drink alcohol. A couple is seen, fuzzily and briefly, making love in the dark, and a woman's nipple can be vaguely glimpsed. A man drags his younger girlfriend out of a party and wrestles her, kicking and screaming, into his car. Later he makes her wait in the car while he goes to his ex-wife to plead to be taken back. Couples throw hurtful zingers at each other. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," as well as other salty language. The mature themes and content makes this best for older teens and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In what seems to be a documentary-within-the-film about adultery, a long-married upper-middle-class man and wife announce casually to their best friends that they are breaking up amicably, and the shock destroys the other couple's marriage. The moment the first spouses express their decision to move on and explore being single again, the wife in the second marriage begins questioning all her buried resentments and longings. She has a secret crush on a coworker. She has always wanted a child but her husband doesn't. She feels overly criticized and at the same time ignored by her husband, who is a professor surrounded by pretty, bright, and adoring college girls. As they both focus on yearnings for other partners, which will ultimately break them apart, the first couple, whiny and self-absorbed as ever, get back together, accepting each other's flaws.

Is it any good?

There is something both exhilarating and false about the pseudo-cinema verité style of director-writer Woody Allen's relationship dramedy. Contrived, overlapping dialogue, faltering improvisations, jump cuts, and whirling cinematography all give an attentive viewer a dose of both visual and mental whiplash and a sense that everyone in this movie is trying too hard. You can see the actors straining to be "in the moment" as they consciously interrupt each other while at the same time remembering to stick to the objective of each scene. Some performances rise above the noise. Judy Davis' neurotic and condescending Sally is impressive, if a little wearing. Allen, as prolific and thoughtful as he has been over a career spanning decades, does not wear well in this instance. His "insights" now seem banal -- recognizing that married couples must compromise, that no one's perfect, and that sexual longings are universal but not necessarily beneficial when acted upon. Allen still comes up with some great lines. He chides his friend for moving in with a woman he thinks of as a bimbo, adding, "It's like your IQ suddenly went into remission." But overall, it's difficult to root for anyone here, as the characters are mostly over-privileged, self-absorbed preeners who congratulate themselves for their taste and refinement and lament how tough their lives are to psychiatrists and each other.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to have unreasonable expectations of other people. Does the movie think that the spouses want too much from their partners?

  • Does the movie suggest that people look for reassurances in their spouses because their own egos are fragile and they have insecurities?

  • How would you define a good marriage?

  • How does this movie compare to other Woody Allen movies you've seen?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

Our editors recommend

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

See how we rate

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

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate