A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes sexual language (including references to genitalia) and imagery (brief images of a married couple making love and a young woman masturbating). Characters smoke, drink, and curse (including the f-word), and a couple of them use the n-word. A character is glimpsed on the toilet, through a doorway.
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What's the story?
George (Alessandro Nivola), returns home to North Carolina with his new bride, Chicago gallery owner Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz). The trip is initiated by Madeleine's interest in a local "outsider artist," David Wark (Frank Hoyt Taylor). And she meets George's family for the first time: His mother Peg (Celia Weston), who distrusts Madeleine as an \"outsider.\" George's father Eugene (Scott Wilson). His brother, Johnny (Ben McKenzie), who resents his older brother's escape, but feels caught: working at a kitchenware warehouse, he's pursuing his GED and means to support his optimistic wife (and former high school girlfriend) Ashley (Amy Adams), now about to have their first child. Through the trip, George and Madeline begin to see each other in a different light. With their new knowledge of one another, they must decide how to move forward.
Is it any good?
Odd, earnest, and insightful, JUNEBUG sneaks up on you. Viewers quickly see that George and Madeline's superficial differences (of habit and affect) aren't nearly as profound as their less visible differences (of values and ambitions). Madeline comes to see George in a different light, a man who escaped his past, but still solicits love and respect from his erstwhile community. When Madeleine focuses all her attention on securing her contract with Wark, she reveals to George a side of herself that he hadn't quite anticipated either.
Ashley serves as a connection among all the characters, admiring Madeline and George, loving her in-laws, and wanting more than anything for her frustrated husband to be like he used to be -- happy, energetic, and hopeful. But he can't imagine himself beyond his current life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the representation of cultural differences, for instance, regional, gendered, and generational. How do such disparities lead to assumptions and assessments? How do the various characters resent or feel jealous of one another, for seeming happiness or success? How does the movie turn around your expectations of who understands the stakes of these family relationships? How does "outsider art" become metaphorical for characters' feelings of alienation or loneliness?
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