A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Like Father is a comedy about a workaholic young woman who takes an unexpected vacation with her estranged father. Along with a mostly wholesome story, co-writer/director Lauren Miller Rogen has opted to use just enough profanity to make it iffy for younger teens. Audiences will hear: "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "c--k," "whore," and "a--hole." In addition, characters drink adult beverages, often to excess; extreme drunkenness has a significant impact on the story's progression. Marijuana is smoked, as well. The heroine has an offscreen sexual liaison with a young man she meets onboard the ship. Afterward, she talks briefly about it and refers to her sexual history. Most of the film takes place onboard a cruise ship (audiences are "treated" to the extensive luxuries and activities of Royal Caribbean travelers). Messages about forgiveness, balancing one's work life with family, and the importance of honest communication are obvious but genially delivered. OK for mature teens.
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What's the story?
In LIKE FATHER, Rachel Hamilton (Kristen Bell) is so obsessed with her work as an advertising executive that she's left at the altar by a nice young man who simply wanted her undivided attention at their wedding. She's devastated but also unnerved when she gets a glimpse of her estranged father, Harry (Kelsey Grammer), among the guests. At home later, Rachel is drowning her sorrows in a bottle when Harry shows up at her apartment. "Just one drink," he insists over the intercom. In spite of her misgivings, Rachel accepts. That "one drink" leads to a long night of drunkenness and superficial reconnection. When a limo driver shows up in the early morning hours, Rachel is stunned. She's completely forgotten that her honeymoon was scheduled to begin. So unexpectedly, the hungover Rachel and Harry wake up to find themselves on a cruise ship together. The fun and games of the Caribbean cruise, a tryst with an eager young man (Seth Rogen), and a lot of forced father-daughter time may be just what was needed to make Rachel and Harry a family once again.
Is it any good?
Appealing lead performances, especially by Kristen Bell, who's just right as Rachel, along with the creative team's enthusiasm and competence, don't make up for the formulaic story that unfolds. The film's outcome is never in doubt. Tablemates on the ship are the expected ones: a gay couple, an African American couple, and an older, most likely Jewish, duo. And while it's tantalizing to see the games, excursions, and partying that goes on aboard the good ship "Harmony of the Seas" -- Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. is surely smiling -- some of the activities are silly, worn-out, and forced, as are some of the "working it out" scenes between father and daughter. Watchable, but not special, Like Father is both a redemption story and an extensive, marketing-savvy look at cruising on one of the enormous "floating hotels" now making their way through the seas in the tropical sunshine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the elements that make a movie "predictable." At what point in the story were you aware of how Like Father would end? In what ways did the journey that Rachel and Harry took keep you engaged? Was the film still enjoyable even though you knew how it would turn out?
"Product placement" means that products or services gain exposure by inclusion in filmed entertainment. How much exposure does Royal Caribbean get in Like Father? Are you aware that the cruise line may have allowed filming on their ship as a means of marketing? Why is it important to be aware of such practices?
Why do you think the movie has so much swearing? What do you think the filmmakers were trying to convey about character and/or situation by using profanity? Did it help you get a handle on Rachel's nature? Did it seem integral to the intensity she exhibited in her work life? Would the film have worked as well without it? Why or why not?
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