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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive themes include perseverance, courage, comedy's place as a truth-telling mechanism, the power of media representation. Struggles women face in the comedy world are explored at length.
Positive Role Models
Radner was a talented, powerful woman who served as a symbol for many young comics; the film reveals her to have also been vulnerable and lovable. Friends and family affectionately recall stories about Gilda that illustrate both her flaws and her successes. She had a bigger body type when she was younger; she tells a few fat jokes during the movie, and viewers learn of her struggles with an eating disorder.
Violence & Scariness
Jokes can lean toward the macabre, like one in which Howdy Doody commits suicide. Radner ultimately dies of cancer, and viewers see her illness progressing, with her getting thinner and more drawn.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some jokes target sex, like a skit in which a man and woman wake up together in bed and rate how the previous night was for each of them. A man's nude buttocks are seen in a vintage photo as he showers.
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Swearing includes "hell," "s--t," "f--k," and "f---er." Some jokes include vulgar language: During a comedy sketch, a man calls a woman "you cow!" and one woman calls another "bitch!"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Radner talks briefly about taking Dexedrine as a diet pill when she was 10. She and others are shown smoking cigarettes in vintage photos and videos. She talks about "needing" to drink a beer before going onstage.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Love, Gilda is a documentary about the legacy of Gilda Radner. Radner was a comic at a time when not many women entered the profession, so her story offers viewers an example of perseverance, courage, and the power of representation in media. Some jokes may raise a few eyebrows, like a skit in which a man and woman wake up seemingly nude in bed and discuss how "it" was for both of them, or a sketch in which Howdy Doody has died via suicide. Language is infrequent but includes "hell," "s--t," "f--k," and "bitch." There's a brief moment of nonsexual nudity in which a man's nude buttocks are visible in a photo. Vintage video and photos depict smoking, and Radner mentions that she was given Dexedrine as a diet pill when she was a child. The film also discusses Radner's eating disorder and shows her declining during her ultimately fatal battle with cancer. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As funny, tender, and ultimately heartbreaking as its subject, this earnest documentary traces a life well lived, if sadly cut short. Filmmaker Lisa D'Apolito must have been excited to find that Radner kept a lifelong diary and that her family used a film camera to record young Gilda's antics. Scenes in which the bright-eyed young girl hams it up in her backyard make it clear that Radner had a comedic fire in her belly from an early age. And, of course, there's plenty of footage from Radner's SNL years, which aptly illustrate both her comic timing and the impact she made in a traditionally male field at a particularly hot moment for American feminism.
One of the strongest points that Love, Gilda makes is how powerful Radner's representation was for today's female comedy stars. "I basically stole all my characters from Gilda," says Poehler. And "Sometimes I wonder if it's why I'm so physical because I just grew up watching her so intensely," says McCarthy. Even more movingly, viewers learn that Radner was hospitalized for an (unspecified) eating disorder, struggled with feelings of worthlessness, and that she and Gene Wilder fell madly in love almost immediately upon meeting and stayed that way through the end of her life. There are few surprises in this biography for Radner's fans. But for them, getting to spend a few more moments with this luminous, enchanting comic will be enough.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.