A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is some mild swearing as the heroine reacts with frustration and anger to several vehicles being stolen from her. A short scene shows a convenience store robbery at gunpoint and the subsequent arrest of the suspect, with a brief scuffle. Finally, underneath the warm comic tone of this film, there is a weighty situation.Max Dugan has been given only a short time to live in order to redeem himself after a life as a liar, con artist, and neglectful father. He speaks of his impending death on a number of occasions, accepting his fate (if the audience is to believe him) gracefully and with humor.
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What's the story?
High school teacher Norah McPhee (Marsha Mason) is struggling with the frustrations and financial realities of being a single mom to her son Michael (Matthew Broderick). When her dilapidated car is stolen, it seems to be the last straw. But things begin to look up as she meets Police Detective Brian Costello (Donald Sutherland) and her long-lost father Max Dugan (Jason Robards, Jr.) appears in her doorway late one night. Max has come for forgiveness and to meet the grandson he's never seen. Given only a short time to live, he has money, seemingly endless resources, and a passionate desire to make things right, if only Norah will forgive him and accept his efforts to pay her back. Unfortunately, people from Max's past (including the law) are after the clever con artist, and Detective Costello's unexpected presence in Norah's life complicates everything.
Is it any good?
MAX DUGAN RETURNS a delightful, warm-hearted comedy for families to share. Neil Simon's bright dialogue, a true-to-life and endearing mother-son relationship, as well as wonderful performances by all the principles (including Matthew Broderick in his very first role) make for an enjoyable experience. There's nothing new here; It's an old story comically retold. Cinderella turns into a princess and meets Prince Charming, only this time she has a son and a fairy godfather with a case filled with cash, instead of a fairy godmother with a magic wand. It's a funny, clever, and satisfying story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of the fairy tale. How does Max Dugan, the movie's "fairy godfather," make Norah's and Mike's wishes come true? What important gifts besides the fancy cars, furniture, etc., does he give them? After Max explains how he got the money, do you agree that Norah and Mike should accept his presents?
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