A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this indie romantic comedy stars the usually foul-mouthed comic Sarah Silverman and Jeff Garlin (a veteran of the caustic Curb Your Enthusiasm), it's actually a good-natured film with lots of heart that's fairly teen-friendly ... with some caveats. Silverman taps into her shtick a bit by acting like a push-the-envelope nympho who likes to discuss sex, albeit in cleaned-up terms (there's virtually no language stronger than "crack whore" in the movie). And there are some painfully convincing moments of binge-eating on Garlin's part.
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What's the story?
In I WANT SOMEONE TO EAT CHEESE WITH, Jeff Garlin plays James, a schlubby, Chicago-based comedian who desperately wants to find someone to love. And, more important, someone to love him back. So when he walks into an ice cream parlor and meets Beth (Sarah Silverman), an oddball nymphomaniac who promptly comes onto him, he's at first befuddled and then totally game. He thinks life is finally giving him his due in the form of a beautiful -- albeit way offbeat -- woman. Quickly, he gets so confident that he barely acknowledges that elementary school teacher Stella (Bonnie Hunt) might find him attractive. He's going for the hot girl.
Is it any good?
It's the stuff that great romantic comedies are made of -- but this one can't seem to get any momentum going. Though it's easy to see that James' pursuit of the standoffish pretty girl may be folly, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With has little, if any, tension. Yes, it's funny (Garlin, who also wrote and directed the film, is, after all, a master comedian). But it plays more like a series of sketch comedy bits -- all strong in their own right, like the one in which Amy Sedaris makes a cameo as a slightly unhinged guidance counselor -- than a cohesive story with an overall arc. (That said, the cameos, including appearances by Richard Kind, Gina Gershon, and Dan Castellaneta, are almost worth the price of admission.)
And there's a bigger -- pardon the pun -- problem: James actually seems anything but pathetic. True, he's overweight and hates it, repeatedly referring to himself as "fat." But he's no sad-sack slob; he always looks presentable (his shirts are crisply ironed), and he's so genial that he's anything but off-putting. Yes, he lives with his mom, but it's not because he's a mooch -- he worries that she'll be lonely. And he may not be able to hold onto his steady gig at Second City, but it's because he's principled; he won't take just any crumb of a job. So here's the fundamental flaw: If James doesn't seem like that much of an outcast -- ultimately, he comes across as a decent guy going through a rough patch -- how can we feel that bad for him? Perhaps if Garlin had cast someone else as James -- Jack Black, maybe, or someone else with edge -- then the transformation from loser to winner would feel more authentic, and viewers would actually feel invested in his triumph.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media tends to portray people who are overweight. Why are they so often made fun of in TV shows and movies? Do you think that tendency has changed at all in recent years? Why or why not? How do jokes based on body type make you feel? Are they different than jokes based on race or ethnicity? Why or why not? Why are "fat" jokes more accepted than racial humor? Is that OK?
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