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 Melt with You is a very depressing drama about four fortysomething friends who get together for a party and try to drown their meaningless misery with tons of alcohol and drugs. It gets even more hopeless as the story goes on. Constant, destructive drinking, smoking, and drug use are the biggest issues; one character is a shady doctor (a quasi-drug dealer) who's probably an addict. Strong language is nearly constant, with many uses of "f--k." There's also some brief nudity (male and female) and implied sex, as well as strong sexual innuendo. There are three suicides and one murder, with dead bodies, as well as a violent, bloody bar fight. Overall, this combination makes the movie a very iffy choice for even the most mature teens.
What's the story?
Four fortysomething friends meet at a beach house for their annual reunion and to celebrate one friend's birthday. Richard (Thomas Jane) is a former writer who's now a teacher, Jonathan (Rob Lowe) is a shady doctor who's probably addicted to drugs, Ron (Jeremy Piven) is a businessman trapped in a bad deal, and Tim (Christian McKay) blames himself for his lover's death. The four men regress to college-age behavior -- binging on alcohol and drugs -- and try to bury their pain, regret, and misery. Unfortunately, a suicide brings to light a forgotten pact that they made 25 years earlier. Will this old promise come back to haunt them?
Is it any good?
Director Mark Pellington creates a vivid bond between four realistic characters, and in the process coaxes four painfully revealing performances. The actors really earned their paychecks here. And (not surprisingly considering that Pelington is a part-time music video director) the movie has some great songs -- by the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Stone Roses, etc. -- from the era in which the men might have first met.
But that's where the good stuff ends. Pellington's camera zooms in on the characters' bleary, ravaged faces and makes sure that their long partying binge doesn't look even the least bit attractive. That's fine, but the actual result is sad, pathetic, anxious, and depressing. And then, at the halfway point, things take a turn for the worse. If only Pellington could have found some kind of balance, offered some relief from time to time, then he might have had an intriguing study of middle-aged men in crisis instead of this grim, often ludicrous cautionary tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is there any way these characters could have found help -- or hope? What resources do people have when they feel at the end of their rope?
Do you think the young characters will grow up to be as disillusioned as the older ones? Does the movie have anything positive to say?
- In theaters: December 9, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: February 28, 2012
- Cast: Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane
- Director: Mark Pellington
- Studio: Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 122 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive drug use and language, some violence and sexual content
- Last updated: May 1, 2020
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