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 romantic dramedy centers on the topic of grief (and moving past it). There are plenty of tearful references to how characters' loved ones died, so teens dealing with loss or other separation-related issues may find the movie upsetting. While nothing more than kissing is shown, there are several conversations about relationships, as well as allusions to sex and "getting laid." The protagonist drinks regularly, and several scenes take place in a bar where adults are drinking (and, in one case, smoking from a hookah pipe). Language includes "s--t," "ass," and "pissed off."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Widower Burke Bryan (Aaron Eckhart) is a best-selling author who runs self-help seminars for the bereaved. At a conference in Seattle -- the city he shared with his deceased wife -- he distracts himself from painful memories by flirting with hotel florist Eloise (Jennifer Aniston). As Burke juggles his duties to his mourning attendees, his need to impress executives from a media corporation that wants to market him as the next Dr. Phil, and his growing attraction to Eloise, it becomes clear that he hasn't yet finished grieving his own loss.
Is it any good?
It's hard to believe that a dashing man like Eckhart and a stunning woman like Aniston could have absolutely no chemistry, but there's no accounting for that enigmatic X-factor in cinema. To say that the leads' utter lack of spark seriously hampers LOVE HAPPENS is an understatement -- but, then again, the movie isn't really a romantic comedy. Frankly, it's unclear what genre the movie belongs in, as it's simultaneously an occasionally humorous look at grief therapy, a chronicle of the hypocritical individuals who become celebrity "healers," and a thoroughly boring examination of the start of a rebound relationship.
Despite feeling overly long and dramatically uneven, Love Happens does feature a couple of stand-out supporting performances. Judy Greer adds another notch to her "quirky best friend" belt as Eloise's slam-poet employee, and Dan Fogler brings the laughs as Burke's manager. Martin Sheen is affecting as Burke's angry former father-in-law, although the movie doesn't really deserve an actor of his magnitude. Most frustrating of all is a wordless cameo from two Battlestar Galactica actors (only BSG fans will recognize them) who pop up in an extended sequence for no real reason. It's only worth mentioning because if their on-screen presence was supposed to be funny ... it wasn't. The puzzling cameo is slightly pleasant but ultimately confusing and insignificant -- just like the film itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message about moving forward past grief and disappointment. How do the various characters come to terms with their anger and heartache?
Although Bryce pretends to alcohol, he secretly consumes it. How is drinking depicted in the movie?
What genre does this movie belong to? Is it a romantic comedy, a black comedy, a drama? How is it different than most romantic comedies?