Life Upside Down
COVID-era romantic dramedy experiment falls flat; language.
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Life Upside Down
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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 Life Upside Down is a romantic dramedy starring Bob Odenkirk, Radha Mitchell, and Danny Huston. It was shot during lockdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong language includes "f--k," "bulls--t," "t-ts," "ass," "goddamn," "oh my God," "balls," "stupid," "blow job," and "horny." There's sex-related dialogue, a married character has an affair, and sex noises are heard over an iPad (a Zoom chat was mistakenly left on). A woman straddles a man's lap, and he removes her top, but they're interrupted. A couple sneaks into a room and emerges slightly disheveled (implying sex), and women wear revealing workout clothing. Adult characters drink during a virtual birthday celebration.
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What's the Story?
In LIFE UPSIDE DOWN, it's the end of 2019, and married Jonathan Wigglesworth (Bob Odenkirk) runs an art gallery in Los Angeles. He's also having an affair with professor Clarissa Cranes (Radha Mitchell). Jonathan hopes that wealthy writer Paul Hasselberg (Danny Huston) will keep the gallery afloat by purchasing one of its most expensive pieces. But then COVID-19 hits. Paul is reluctant to spend any money on anything frivolous, and Jonathan worries about the future of his business. Stuck at home with his wife (Jeanie Lim), he also starts neglecting Clarissa. Meanwhile, Paul finds his own relationship with his much younger wife, Rita (Rosie Fellner), becoming strained, as he works on his new book. And Darius (Cyrus Pahlavi), a younger man who rents Clarissa's guest house, starts to become her only contact to humanity.
Is It Any Good?
This COVID-era romantic dramedy experiment with a great cast quickly becomes as inert as lockdown was. It's not terribly funny or terribly emotional, and it winds up not doing or being much of anything. To start, it may be difficult for many viewers to identify with the movie's characters, "stuck" in their spacious homes while playing piano and doing yoga. The movie can't find their human center. They're really just privileged symbols, and their awkward interactions smack of a bad Woody Allen imitation. (To Paul, everything is just "stupid.") Moreover, the movie can't seem to capture the specific mood of what lockdown was actually like. These characters just seem bored. Attempts at humor -- such as Jonathan trying to get away from his wife for 10 minutes to call Clarissa -- are simply flat. And the decision to not show Jonathan's wife's face -- or give her a name -- is perplexing and distracting. Worst of all is the echoey soundtrack, as the movie tries to capture lockdown life on Zoom cameras and iPhones. None of it works, and Life Upside Down is a flatline.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Life Upside Down's depiction of sex. How is it portrayed? What values are shown?
How well does the movie capture the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown?
How is chatting over technology different than interacting in person?
What lessons have people learned from coping with a pandemic? What themes does the movie seem most concerned with?
Why do you suppose the filmmaker chose not to show the face of Jonathan's wife or give her a name?
- In theaters: January 27, 2023
- On DVD or streaming: January 27, 2023
- Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Radha Mitchell, Danny Huston
- Director: Cecilia Miniucchi
- Studio: IFC Films
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 11, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Touching dramedy explores virtual friendship; language.
Zoom dramedy focuses on family connections; teen pot use.
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Coppola's relationship dramedy has sex, strong language.
Romance is brainy, talky, and delightful; sex, language.
Your Sister's Sister
Smart, mature romantic dramedy has adult situations, sex.
Lots of drinking in romantic indie dramedy.
Excellent but explicit movie is not for kids.
For kids who love romance and drama
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