Parents' Guide to

Labor Day

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Uneven melodrama with confusing messages about love.

Movie PG-13 2014 111 minutes
Labor Day Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Unusual but thoughtful family drama

Great acting, unusual drama about people who seem to be "good" or "bad," and how that can be a fluid standard. The themes can be complex, but the story is told mostly through the eyes of a teenage boy, which makes it relatable to older kids. We found this film to be suspenseful, intriguing, and honest--despite the unlikely nature of the plot and the Brolin character. Lots to talk about for parents and their teenagers, about true character and the shifting nature of good vs. evil.
age 18+

Entertaining for adults, too sexually explicity for children

This film is told from the viewpoint of a 13 year old boy who witnesses his mother jump into bed and (loudly) have repeated sexual relations with a stranger she has known for less than two days and who is an escaped murderer. This, of course, plays with his mind, as he knows exactly what irresponsible things his mother is doing with the stranger who now lives with her, and is struggling with his own awakening sexual desires and how to handle them.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (5 ):

It's unclear what director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) is trying to accomplish with this well-cast piece of treacle. Maybe he wanted to show he could direct an earnest film and still keep his cred as a brave and innovative director. But the result is a movie so overly sincere, melodramatic, and emotionally manipulative it makes The Bridges of Madison County seem edgy by comparison. It doesn't help that Reitman tries so hard to insert Terrence Malick-esque shots with natural light, close-ups of trees and grass and stillness. Only, it doesn't work. Even with the amazing cast, Reitman has only succeeded in making his worst movie to date.

Sure, this will play well with a segment of the population that likes poignant, doomed romances, and it must be admitted that there are brief moments when the heart-tugging and the drama will overcome even the most jaded moviegoer (particularly when it involves Henry and Adele). But those instances last for a few beats, and then you realize that the overwrought material (a Stockholm Syndrome love story) just isn't a good fit for Reitman's skills as a filmmaker, and it's certainly not fitting of actors of Winslet and Brolin's caliber. The movie is at its best when it deals with the mother-and-son relationship, and it's worst when it flashes back to the tragedies of Adele's and Frank's younger selves. Ultimately, it's such an uneven drama it leaves you dangerously devoid of emotion when it's done, except for perhaps frustration.

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