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 is a beautiful love story about two twentysomethings who meet in college but soon have to navigate a relationship separated by oceans and diverging life paths. Couples are shown (bare shoulders, kissing) and heard (some moans) in intimate moments, but there's no graphic nudity; the movie seems more interested in the feelings between the lovers: how they grow, confuse, distance. There's also some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and mature themes (infidelity and some tricky immigration muck-ups, for instance), as well as a fair amount of social drinking. Characters do discuss cutting back on alcohol, and there's a talk about safe sex.
What's the story?
A close-up look at first love, LIKE CRAZY follows a young couple -- British student Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin), her American teaching assistant -- who fall madly for each other the year before they graduate from college in Los Angeles. Unable to tear herself away from him, Anna decides to stay after her visa runs out before finally going home to England for the rest of the summer. But when she eventually tries to come back to the States, she's refused at the border, throwing them into a long-distance relationship that's much more difficult to sustain and maintain. To add to the complications, her journalism career has begun auspiciously in London, and his fledgling L.A. furniture business is poised to take off. And there are other distractions. But they can't stay happily apart, either.
Is it any good?
If you feel like you've intruded into someone else's relationship while watching this Sundance sensation, you're not alone; it's that intimate, that true. Director-writer Drake Doremus and his writing partner shared extensive outlines with the actors but allowed them to improvise their own dialogue through an intense rehearsal period, lending the entire enterprise surprising authenticity -- and deeper heartbreak. Thanks to Jones and Yelchin's prodigious talents, it really does feel like watching two people fall in love -- and, given the hindrances that viewers are made acutely aware of from the onset, we ache knowing they're choosing a very cobbled, potentially treacherous path.
What LIKE CRAZY does very well is capture the feeling of your first grown-up romance: how full of possibility it seems, as well as the impossibility of it. And how we plunge in headlong anyway, because what other choices do we really have? The impulsivity of youth has consequences here, but they don't feel forced or affected. You may question the motivations of some of Anna's and Jacob's decisions -- a plot point revolving around how they conduct themselves when they're away from each other is particularly confusing -- but we don't question the characters themselves. For a movie like this to work, that's supremely important. We root for them despite our hard-won wisdom. Isn't that the way it is with a love like this?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Anna's and Jacob's relationship. Is it a healthy one? How does it change over the course of a movie? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values when it comes to sex and relationships.
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