Kelly & Cal

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Kelly & Cal Movie Poster Image
Mature story of unlikely friends explores serious topics.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Kelly and Cal have little in common besides the fact that they're both angry about what they've lost, but they must both learn to appreciate what they do have.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kelly, a new mom who's having trouble adjusting to the demands of motherhood, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Cal, a teenage boy who recently ended up in a wheelchair after a tragic accident and is bitter about his situation. She ends up behaving more and more like a fellow teen and makes some questionable decisions.

Violence

Some intense arguments.

Sex

A new mother bemoans her suddenly waning sex life. She retreats to her bed with a vibrator but is interrupted by a crying baby. In a later scene she and her husband kiss and embrace in bed. The woman begins an emotional affair with a teenage boy. They kiss in one scene, and she later disrobes while he watches.

Language

Plenty of salty language, including "s--t," "-ss," "bitch," and variations of "f--k."

Consumerism

A character drives a Volvo and extols its safety features. He also discusses the medicinal properties of Guinness beer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The two main characters, an adult woman and a teenage boy, spend many afternoons together drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. In one scene they get wasted, and then he gets behind the wheel of a car and they drive home. They sometimes discuss smoking pot in the past.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kelly & Cal explores the unlikely friendship between a new mom who's struggling to adjust to her new role and a teenage boy who's confined to a wheelchair after an accident. The film covers intense emotional ground but is slow moving. Expect some frank, emotional discussions and a good deal of swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k."), as well as plenty of scenes showing the main characters (one of whom is a high school student) drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. There's also some kissing, a character is shown taking a vibrator to bed (she's interrupted before she can use it), and a scene in which the older woman disrobes in front of her younger friend.

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What's the story?

KELLY & CAL, played by Juliette Lewis and Johnny Weston, are an unlikely pair. A former riot girl/artist who just gave birth to her first baby, Kelly is struggling to adapt to life as a new mother, feeling invisible and missing her reckless, unfettered youth. Cal, meanwhile, is a teenage boy recently relegated to a wheelchair after a tragic accident. They bond first over a cigarette and later during many boozy afternoons, where they share their feelings on what they've lost, sometimes forgetting what they already have -- and breaking boundaries in the process.

Is it any good?

Lewis turns in a nuanced performance as a new mother set adrift, one that's complemented by her chemistry with her co-star, Weston. But her best efforts are thwarted by a script that overstays its welcome. The film lingers too much, dragging the pace beyond a certain slowness that it does need to make audiences feel the long long days of new motherhood. It's also crowded with too many characters, some of whom deserve more screen time (like Cybill Shepherd, who plays Kelly's mother-in-law), and twists in the storyline that, toward the end, make it a bit of a mess.

Pared down, Kelly & Cal would make a great movie. As it is, it's still fairly watchable, with an admirable sympathy for its main character. It deserves to be seen, especially Lewis' performance. She gets enough to work with to show off her considerable -- if sometimes overlooked -- talents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationships in Kelly & Cal. Do they seem realistic? What messages does the movie send about love and friendship?

  • What draws Kelly & Cal together? Do you think they have a healthy relationship?

  • What do you think about Kelly's marriage? How has the arrival of a baby impacted her relationship with her husband? Do you think the movie portrays parenthood realistically?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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