A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's very little to worry about in this earnest romantic comedy. The characters are all well-intentioned, and even when they behave badly, it's only because they're human, not because they want to hurt anyone (this is made very clear). Teens who know star Jay Baruchel from Judd Apatow's Knocked Up may be surprised that there's no foul-mouthed guy humor here. Instead, it has themes about finding yourself and making authentic choices. Some drinking, but only by those of legal age, and one heavy make-out session.
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What's the story?
Who is Reed Fish? For starters, he's the movie's screenwriter. He's also the titular hero (Jay Baruchel), a gangly twentysomething guy who's so dutiful, nice, and dependable that even his future father-in-law calls him a "good boy." To Kate (Alexis Bledel), he's a loving fiancé. And to everyone else in the tiny town of Mud Meadows, Reed Fish is his father's son, which means that since his dad (and mom, too, actually) is long gone, it's up to him to step into the role of town chronicler as the voice of its radio station and host of its public-access cable show. But ask Reed Fish who he is, and he won't be able to answer. He's so busy fulfilling everyone else's expectations that he doesn't know himself. Until an old high school crush, Jill (Schuyler Fisk), stops in one summer and forces him to find out, that is ...
Is it any good?
There's a lot to like about I'M REED FISH: the movie's appealing vintage look, the sweetly eccentric supporting cast, the small flashes of cinematic brilliance. Unfortunately, all of this doesn't add up to a loveable whole. The quirky comedy unfolds with oddball twists and turns, but it's lethargic, lacking the jauntiness that typically energizes indie rom-coms. It's as if the real-life Fish and director Zackary Adler prepared a feast but forgot to season it. Maybe they shouldn't have doctored it up with so much quirk in the first place.
Adler does draw decent performances from his cast, including Baruchel and Bledel (and DJ Qualls as a love-strong martial arts fanatic is hilarious.) But it's Fisk who stands out -- she's so natural and refreshing (with a great singing voice, too!) in the role of Jill that when Fish starts to make choices that are far removed from the life script already written for him, it's not only understandable, but applause worthy -- if only a little bit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about expectations and how they're set. How does a young person decide who he or she becomes? Do parents wield the most influence? What about neighbors and friends? Also, what role does the media play in creating and setting expectations? In TV shows and movies, does it seem like there's one fork in the road leading to a specific choice that determines what happens in the future? Is that how it is in real life?
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