My Louisiana Sky

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
My Louisiana Sky Movie Poster Image
Sweet coming-of-age movie has mature themes.
  • PG
  • 2002
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As a coming-of-age movie about a 12-year-old girl living with mentally handicapped parents in 1950s Louisiana, this film teaches, through discussion and action, lessons in tolerance and empathy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tiger Ann is a kind girl who makes the best out of not being accepted by her classmates because her parents are mentally handicapped. Through her Aunt Dorie Kay, she learns of a bigger world outside of her tiny Louisiana town, and develops a greater sense of empathy as she learns what really happened with her mother.

Violence

Mild peril, as a girl and her father try to make it home through the woods as a hurricane passes overhead.

Sex

Tiger Ann has her first menstrual period and learns what this means from her grandmother. Also, her boy friend suddenly wants to be her boyfriend.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Louisiana Sky is a moving 2001 film set in 1950s rural Louisiana about a feisty 12-year-old girl whose parents are mentally handicapped. As a coming-of-age movie based on the novel by Kimberly Wilis Holt, this is as much about Tiger Ann growing up as it is about her family life -- in the story, she has her first menstrual period and learns what this means from her grandmother, her boy friend (played by a very young Michael Cera) suddenly wants to be her boyfriend, and she begins to conceive of life lived outside of her immediate surroundings. The acting across the board is excellent, and the mental handicaps of the parents are portrayed and presented with great compassion.

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What's the story?

Tiger Ann Parker (Kelsey Keel) is a 12-year-old living in rural Louisiana in the 1950s. Her mentally handicapped parents are loving and sweet, but aren't much help as Tiger Ann begins to grow into womanhood while beginning to feel trapped in her slow-paced country life. But with the arrival of her Aunt Dorie Kay (Juliette Lewis) from Baton Rouge, many changes -- some good, some bad -- begin to happen, culminating in a trip to visit Dorie Kay. It is here, in "the big city," that Tiger Ann gets a glimpse into the adventure and freedom of a life unfettered by small town gossip and the difficulties her parents face. But as Dorie Kay helps Tiger to see the pure love of her parents, when she returns home, she begins to understand and appreciate her unique life and family situation.

Is it any good?

MY LOUISIANA SKY is a wonderful coming-of-age movie set in 1950s rural Louisiana. It manages to evoke a time and place while showing the challenges a tween girl faces in having mentally handicapped parents, without resorting to heavy-handedness. Simply put, this is a moving story about a girl's first realizations of a bigger and potentially better world out there as she learns to appreciate what she has.

The slower pace and subject matter will make this one difficult for younger kids, but families with tweens and older will enjoy this simple story of love, understanding, and growth. From Juliette Lewis to a very young Michael Cera, from Amelia Campbell to Chris Owens (who play Tiger Ann's mentally handicapped parents), the acting is neither mawkish nor overblown, but just right. This is the rare coming-of-age movie where all the characters are fully drawn, and the story is well-balanced and evenly-paced, presented without unnecessary fanfare or gimmicks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coming-of-age movies. What makes this movie similar to and different from other movies where tweens begin to grow up?

  • What are some of the ways in which the culture and attitudes of the Deep South of the 1950s is conveyed?

  • How does this film present the issue of mentally handicapped parents?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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