Parents' Guide to

Judy

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Booze, pills, smoking in well-acted but tragic biopic.

Movie PG-13 2019 118 minutes
Judy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 13+

Tragic, heartbreaking biopic has strong language and pervasive drug abuse

“Judy” follows the tragic life of Judy Garland as she looses custody of her children, goes through a heartbreak and is brung back to her torturous and horrific childhood. After watching, you will be emotional. Is it appropriate for your kid? Let’s fine out: VIOLENCE: A glass object is thrown in rage, nothing else other than that. LANGUAGE: Infrequent use of “fuck” and “shit” mostly in one scene. “faggot” is used to put down a gay man. DRUG/ALCOHOL USE: Pervasive use of drugs throughout. Judy is shown taking pills and getting high throughout, falling over on stage as well as crying and having hallucinations in which she sings along to imaginary music. The addiction started as a child, where she was forced to take pills to tighten her appetite. SEXUAL CONTENT: It is implied Judy was sexually assaulted, this however is dwelled on extremely lightly. OVERALL: The upsetting tone and theme in this film may be to mature for ages 13 and under.
age 14+

Kids may not be interested

Not for young kids as the drug and alcohol use is extensive, but even my teens were not totally engaged. They obviously know Garland from the Wizard of Oz, but those younger years were only briefly touched on in this film. As a result, my 16, 17, and 19 year old's gave it only 2 stars while my wife and I really enjoyed it. This is film about how her warped childhood experience influenced who she was as an adult and mother. It was heartbreaking to watch overall, but wonderfully done. Renee deserves serious Oscar consideration for this performance.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Rupert Goold gives us a heartbreaking reminder that the giddy, life-is-swell, rolling-in-money lives depicted through curated photos don't tell the whole story. This is an especially powerful reminder in an age of endless entertainment platforms and social media sites that seem ready to offer quick fame and fortune. The bulk of the action in Judy takes place when Garland had less than a year left to live, but Goold flashes back to key teenage moments when things went off-kilter for her due to emotional manipulation, pill pushing by authority figures, and bullying. The story could help teen viewers understand the magnitude of how authority figures can use soft-spoken intimidation in devious, life-altering ways. If only Garland's hopeful, put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other outlook had resulted in a different outcome, her story could have been a triumph instead of a tragedy.

Zellweger is the pot of gold at the end of Garland's rainbow. When she belts out "By Myself," it's like watching a caterpillar metamorphosize in front of your eyes: squinty, insecure Bridget Jones is gone, transformed into the gaunt but graceful doe-eyed legend. Zellweger nails Garland's speaking voice, mannerisms, and body positioning -- but it's not an imitation, it's an explanation. She pulls at her scarf, and we read just how uncomfortable she is in her own skin. When Garland performs, she's shoulders-back confident; when she rests in private conversation, her shoulders curve in, her back forms a C, and we realize it's a form of self-protection (which is necessary because literally no one else has her back). Zellwegger's Garland has a way of making others feel at ease and special, creating a warmth over the course of a short interaction. But Zellwegger also shows us that these are one-sided gifts Garland would give; she never received the authentic emotional connection she craved, except with her kids. And perhaps that's why writer Tom Edge put the entire story in the context of Garland's relationship with her children, so we could feel her inner destruction when it appears she's losing that, too.

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