A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lady Bird is the directorial debut of popular indie actress Greta Gerwig, who tells a semi-autobiographical story based on the time between when she finished high school and left for college (Saoirse Ronan plays the character based on Gerwig). It's a wonderful, funny, touching, and balanced movie, but only for older teens due to the mature content. Teen characters smoke pot and drink; in one scene, a teen drinks so much that she winds up in the hospital. A teen girl has sex for the first time: She's shown sitting astride her partner, who finishes quickly. Nothing graphic is shown in that scene, but another brief shot includes a quick glimpse of a Playgirl magazine that features photos of fully naked men. Same-sex and opposite-sex teen couples kiss. Language is quite strong, with several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "c--t," and "bitch." Violence isn't an issue, but there's a lot of arguing and some brief, spoken violent imagery.
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What's the story?
In LADY BIRD, Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who's nicknamed herself "Lady Bird," is finishing her senior year at a faith-affiliated private high school in Sacramento, Calif., and preparing to head to college. Her father (Tracy Letts) is unemployed, and the family doesn't have money to send her anywhere fancy. Meanwhile, Lady Bird and her mom (Laurie Metcalf) are fighting regularly -- about money and nearly everything else. At school, Lady Bird joins the theater club to meet a boy (Lucas Hedges) she likes, but it doesn't work out. Then she becomes attracted to a musician and his cool friends and is tempted to leave behind her nerdy best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein). All the while, Lady Bird -- who can't wait to get out of her hometown -- can't seem to stop getting into trouble. As she cooks up a drastic plan to get to New York, she starts to realize that home is where the heart is.
Is it any good?
A striking directorial debut by Greta Gerwig, this tender, semi-autobiographical love letter to Gerwig's hometown explores the gulf between childhood and adulthood with touching, witty humor. Gerwig first gained acclaim for writing and acting in "mumblecore" indies; she seemed to find her own voice and persona in films like Damsels in Distress and Frances Ha. Now she brings that persona, fully formed, to the nuanced, wonderful Lady Bird. (It resembles Frances Ha, which she co-wrote, in many good ways.) And, standing in for the director on-screen, Oscar nominee Ronan perfectly adopts Gerwig's trademark sweet/scatterbrain delivery, sprinkling it with soul and humanity.
The movie is more about a time, a state of mind, and an emotional place than it is a story, and Gerwig allows scenes to wander off track in a delightful way. Even if they have nothing to do with Lady Bird, scenes sometimes follow secondary characters for no other reason than Gerwig likely found them interesting, sad, or funny. Not everything is explained. Special care is given to Lady Bird's mother, Marion, who's no-nonsense and borderline mean, but also truly loving. Metcalf gives a fine performance in the role. The overall use of music, cityscape images, and feisty rhythms round out a wonderfully personal, open-hearted movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the movie show and talk about teen sex? How does it affect the characters? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How personal/autobiographical does this movie seem? Do any of Gerwig's experiences resonate personally with you? If so, how?
How does the film portray the character who's gay and dealing with coming out? Does the film judge him? Is he stereotyped?
- In theaters: November 3, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: March 6, 2018
- Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges
- Director: Greta Gerwig
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and teen partying
- Awards/Honors: Golden Globe
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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