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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 is laden with casual references to sex (talk about “doing the nasty” as well as terms like “skank,” “undersexed,” and references to virginity), some strong language (“ass,” “hell,” and a few uses of “s--t," which are bleeped for TV broadcast), smoking, drinking, and generally irresponsible behavior. The main chararacter fakes a pregnancy to save her job, and even the inevitable revelation of her deceit doesn't have strong repercussions. Despite some worthwhile character development and a few obvious lessons about industriousness and honesty, teens will be more influenced by the movie’s misleading messages about responsibility and relationships than by anything positive.
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What's the story?
Twenty-something Thea (Lindsay Lohan) is frustrated with her immature boyfriend, her responsibility to her younger sister, and her lackluster secretarial job. After multiple mishaps at work, her boss (Chris Parnell) threatens to cut her loose -- but she makes up a story about being pregnant so he’ll change his mind. Soon everyone has heard the news, and she can’t seem to set the record straight. So, with the help of her friend, Lisa (Cheryl Hines), Thea dons a belly pillow and maternity clothes and continues the ruse. When she’s promoted to the company’s new family division and discovers she actually has a knack for her new job, Thea fears that revealing the truth will cost her a chance at success -- and a relationship with her new manager, Nick (Luke Kirby). But the phony pregnancy is a ticking time bomb, and there’s no telling what pieces will be left to pick up when it blows.
Is it any good?
Watching LABOR PAINS is a bit like the labor process itself: It’s a steady descent from tolerable pain to utter misery that’s almost forgotten in the midst of the predictably happy ending. Almost, but not quite. For much of the movie, Thea is a self-absorbed, unmotivated, irresponsible young adult with little clarity to her future, and it’s only with the safety net of a huge lie that she begins to come into her own and find some professional and personal success.
You could argue that her character turn-around outweighs her early mistakes, but in fact she’s more believable as a snippy screw-up than as the reliable executive she becomes. (Of course, that might be influenced by Lohan's own off-camera trials.) The film does boast a talented cast (Janeane Garofalo joins in as a talk-show host), but even that’s not enough to overshadow its flaws. Factor in the movie’s frequent sexual references, a surprising amount of unnecessary smoking and drinking, and some strong language, and it’s clear there’s not much value for teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about the consequences of sex and unplanned pregnancy. Are they realistic? Can you think of other shows or movies that have a different take on the topic? Is it the media's responsibility to present this content in a realistic manner?
Teens: What are your responsibilities at this point in your life? What repercussions do you face if you don’t fulfill them? How do your choices now affect the course of your future?
How is your impression of TV shows and movies influenced by your perception of the people who star in them? Do you think celebrities are held to a different standard than regular people? Do they have a responsibility to be positive role models for young fans?
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