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 sweet romance about middle-aged lovers deals with some mature themes -- family dysfunction, for starters -- in a low-key way that likely won't lure too many younger viewers. But those who do see it, especially older teens, will be greeted with strong storytelling about a very realistic relationship. There's some strong language (mostly "s--t"), and few scenes involve drinking, primarily in a social setting (at pubs, for instance) -- though one character sits at a bar seemingly ready to drown his sorrows. It may feel like a downer at first, but it's ultimately a hopeful film.
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What's the story?
Harvey (Dustin Hoffman), a composer who makes his living writing commercial jingles, has hit a series of wrong notes. His estranged daughter is about to get married in London, and he's determined to prove himself worthy of her trust by being there for the weekend. His boss threatens to fire him if he's not back on Monday, so Harvey promises to return in time. But there are challenges ahead: Once he gets to London, he finds out that his daughter has asked her stepfather to walk her down the aisle instead. And Kate (Emma Thompson), a government statistician whom Harvey meets at Heathrow and winds up spending the weekend with has given him pause ... as well as the courage to change his fate. But Kate isn't sure she can trust in a virtual stranger when life, up to this moment, life has disappointed her so.
Is it any good?
LAST CHANCE HARVEY plays on a low register but achieves maximum impact with a simple story that feels achingly authentic. As two souls who've lost their way in middle age, Hoffman and Thompson play their characters subtly but with tremendous empathy. And their chemistry is lovely; they're like two puzzle pieces meant to fit together very well.
Kate and Harvey's relationship -- which mostly unfolds in a series of languid walk-and-talks that make the most of the London setting -- is a grown-up pairing that relies less on sizzling sex appeal and more on an unexplainable, but very real, feeling of connection. It's a sweet movie -- a mite predictable, yes, and not exactly groundbreaking, but a joy to watch, even if only to witness two acting masters at work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes this movie different from many Hollywood romances. Does the central relationship seem more or less realistic than in other romances you've seen? Why? How do most movies define "love"? How does that compare to real life? Also, what does the movie say about the power of forgiveness -- not only of others, but of yourself?
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