A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Hate Kids is a comedy about a snarky, soon-to-be-married author named Nick (Tom Everett Scott) who never wants to be a father but then unexpectedly discovers he has a teenage son (Julian Feder). Expect some swearing ("ass," "s--t," "crap," etc.) and themes related to Nick's past promiscuity (he slept with a lot of women). A couple of scenes with hitting/punching are played for laughs, and there's some drinking by adults, at least once to excess. Tituss Burgess and Rachel Boston co-star.
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What's the story?
In I HATE KIDS, Nick (Tom Everett Scott) is the author of a popular book decrying parenthood. Right before his marriage to the suitably non-maternal Sydney (Rachel Boston) -- whose sister, Kelly (Rhea Seehorn of Better Call Saul), is about to give birth -- Nick unexpectedly discovers that he has a teenage son, Mason (Julian Feder). Nick, Mason, and The Amazing Fabular (Tituss Burgess), the psychic who brought them together, go on a weekend quest to figure out who Mason's mother is (Nick has a lot of women in his past) before the wedding.
Is it any good?
The dialogue is pat and the story beats predictable, but there are a few yuks in this comedy, largely thanks to skilled supporting players. From its title, you know immediately how I Hate Kids is going to turn out. Scott has some enjoyable moments as a reformed lothario who's reluctantly revisiting a bunch of women he encountered and abandoned in the past. Burgess, as you might expect, milks laughs out of facial expressions and his relationship with his cute dog. Sydney and Kelly's scenes produce the film's best chemistry, with Seehorn's unrelenting skepticism of Nick stealing much of the movie. Casting director Mary Jo Slater also scored with some of the bit players, including Arden Myrin as an unhinged ex and Rico E. Anderson as a hot-and-cold CHP officer. And for some reason, the wonderful Marisa Tomei shows up for a minute.
Many of the gags fall flat, given their obvious setups (gee, wonder what's going to happen when Nick talks to a karate instructor he dumped?). But the main problem with I Hate Kids is that the emotional beats are taken for granted. Despite a game turn by Boston, Nick and Sydney have no rapport. We know from the start that the film will be about Nick's evolution into wanting to be a father and that Sydney will probably arrive at the same place. But their journeys aren't convincing. There's no emotional reality. Similarly, when Mason is potentially meeting his mother for the first time -- over and over, with different candidates -- there's never a sense of anticipation or disappointment for either him or Nick, so there isn't any for viewers. I Hate Kids doesn't make much of an effort to persuade us that its characters love each other, and it doesn't do more than move us to the occasional chuckle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sexual theme in I Hate Kids. Why do you think Nick hid his past from Sydney? Should he have done so? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
One of the most common elements in farcical comedies like this one is the sustained lie. In this case, Nick lies several times to his fiancée to cover up what's going on. Did the lies matter to you? Did they seem necessary? Did they create a funny situation? How did it make you feel about the characters?
The film is called I Hate Kids, but some characters don't end up feeling that way. Is that predictable because of the title? Did you find the film surprising at all?
- In theaters: January 18, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2019
- Cast: Tom Everett Scott, Tituss Burgess, Rachel Boston, Rhea Seehorn
- Director: John Asher
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive material and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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