A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of personal choice, female friendship, and support.
Positive Role Models
While main character Julia is entitled, vain, and sometimes petulant, women are depicted as caring, giving, supportive, and inclusive overall. One woman is shown as being a great friend and hanging in there even when being pushed away.
Female-driven story involving a largely female cast and crew, including the writers and one of the directors. The main character and two supporting characters are women over the age of 50. Young Muslim mother of Middle Eastern descent is depicted positively (she's studying for the bar exam and trying to care for her two small children while battling cancer). Black woman cast in a more stereotypical supporting role as a nurse.
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Violence & Scariness
Main characters are all fighting serious disease; effects of illness and treatment are shown, and characters have to deal with significant pain.
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Strong language throughout, including: "dammit," "d--k," "s--t," "shut up," and quite a few uses of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking pot. References to taking recreational drugs. Mentions of self medicating with alcohol and antidepressants. Nurse lays out a large amount of prescription medications for a patient.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Happy Ending is a dramedy about an aging movie star named Julia Roth (Andie MacDowell) who faces her cancer diagnosis with the support of three other women in a chemotherapy center. Based on a play, it's mostly women talking in a single setting, and it isn't likely to engage young audiences. Still, it could serve as an intro to cancer: Julia knows nothing about the disease or its treatment, so she asks lots of questions. Much attention is given to how to endure pain by imagining going to a happy place. For families experiencing similar circumstances, Julia's decisions about how to handle her illness may create more worry, and parents in this situation are advised to preview the film first. Characters smoke pot and make references to getting drunk and high, including misusing prescription medication. There's also swearing -- "s--t," "f--k," and more. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Terminal illness films are known to appeal to teens, but this isn't the kind of three-hanky cancer romance-drama they might be looking for. Sill, like many of those films, My Happy Ending is about realizing priorities and making the decision to embrace life, which means something different to the movie's different characters. And there's much that's lovely about women, most of them over the age of 50, coming together to support each other through a difficult time. When one of the patients is feeling intense pain, they hold hands and go "on holiday" together, transported through their imaginations to a happy place until the pain subsides.
But the story may not be particularly engaging to those who haven't had the cancer experience, even though it also serves as a primer about what it means to have cancer and what to expect while treating it. Things never get particularly scary because, other than bald heads and the occasional wince of pain, the women all look to be in remarkably good health. That's a curious choice, as is making the protagonist a movie star. Julia isn't particularly likable: She's entitled, vain, and sometimes petulant. The point of the film is to suggest that the patient should have agency over how they approach their treatment, but Julia's reasoning for her own choices rings hollow. She may get her version of a happy ending, but the audience doesn't.
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.