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 offbeat comedy is not just a love story, but also a tribute to Los Angeles. Steve Martin’s goofy antics and witty dialogue will keep teens entertained, but the early-'90s humor feels a little dated, and the L.A. in-jokes might be lost on teens unfamiliar with Los Angeles lore. The characters navigate the complexities of casual sex and meaningful relationships in a whimsical yet loving manner that older kids and teens will understand. There's also some profanity, fantasy violence, and a brief shot of a topless woman.
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What's the story?
Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a Los Angeles weatherman who’s deeply dissatisfied with his life. He spends the movie charting a new direction, both personally and professionally, against the backdrop of “anything goes” Los Angeles in the early '90s. L.A.’s own flavor of magical realism, in the form of an advice-dispensing freeway sign, guides him through three romantic relationships, from controlling, image-conscious Trudi (Marilu Henner) to frisky, fun SandEe (Sarah Jessica Parker, before Sex and the City), to quirky London journalist Sara (Victoria Tennant, Martin’s real-life wife at the time). Written by Martin, the movie is both a love story and an homage to Los Angeles.
Is it any good?
The movie is a sweet and poignant love story, both between Harris and Sara and Steve Martin and Los Angeles. Martin’s deftly written script simultaneously celebrates and pokes fun at a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Many jabs are related to its residents’ love affair with cars: Harris drives to his best friend’s house, though it’s just two doors down, and his shortcut to work involves barreling through backyards and down staircases (what Angeleno doesn’t have a secret detour to dodge traffic?). And the film’s voice of wisdom, who helps Harris change his life? A freeway sign.
While kids will find Martin’s oddball antics entertaining, some of the inside jokes about L.A. seem a bit dated; for example, there’s a scene ridiculing people with “car phones” (remember those?). But kids who’ve spent any time in Los Angeles (or whose parents have) will get the joke when characters flock to a hot new restaurant, L’Idiot, and clamor for miniscule portions and abusive service.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to make choices that are best for you, not someone else.
What qualities are most important in a romantic relationship?
What makes your town or city special to you? How is where you live different from Los Angeles, or other places you’ve read about or visited?
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