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Parents' Guide to

Life Itself

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Too-emotional melodrama has violence, language, drinking.

Movie R 2018 118 minutes
Life Itself Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+
This movie expresses something of what endures in the messy aftermath of death and the life that goes on. Sad and shocking in places but also trascendent- perhaps in a way that Hollywood doesn't like given the many poor reviews! Don't believe them- there is good substance here- and lots of fodder for conversations about resilience, memory and the connections between generations.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Even the excellent cast can't save this well-intentioned but maudlin tearjerker from feeling like an emotionally manipulative melodrama. Unlike This Is Us, where the sentimentality works because audiences have multiple episodes in which to emotionally invest in the show's characters and storylines, Life Itself feels mawkish. The tears may come, but they won't be earned, because the story is rushed and patched together in a way that devalues each of the "chapters" and characters. Fogelman is a talented TV storyteller, and there are pieces of the movie's story that by themselves would have made interesting features, but all together the movie isn't nearly as powerful as it clearly aims to be.

Instead, all of the film's capable, award-winning actors (particularly the ones playing the Spaniards, who handle their characters with a subtlety lacking in some of the American roles) are left with an uneven, at times downright disturbing and violent film. (Even if tweens and middle schoolers watch This Is Us at home, this movie isn't for younger viewers.) The dialogue is clunky and so overwrought that it feels dishonest. What pot-smoking, beer-chugging frat boy has the emotional maturity to tell his best friend what Will tells Abby as an undergraduate? Fogelman's brand of speechifying works just fine when Sterling K. Brown or Milo Ventimiglia is waxing poetic or proclaiming their love on TV, but it feels over-the-top here. Given how well-loved Fogelman's series is, fans may be disappointed that the movie doesn't live up to their expectations, but that Pearson magic just isn't here.

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