A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that -- in terms of swearing, sexuality, violence, and commercialism -- there's hardly any age-inappropriate content in this romantic (if cliched) drama based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. That said, it may not interest a lot of young since since it deals with mature subjects like infidelity, divorce, and death (albeit with plenty of empathy). Adult characters drink heavily in one scene.
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What's the story?
Paul Flanner (Richard Gere), a distressed doctor, heads for North Carolina's Outer Banks to settle some unfinished business. When he arrives at the Inn of Rodanthe, he meets Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane); she's filling in for a friend who owns the B&B, but the long weekend is really more of a respite from her troubles back home. Her husband (Christopher Meloni), who left her seven months ago for another woman, now says he wants to come back. Adrienne is conflicted but wants to do right by her two children, one of whom is a teenager longing to have her broken family put together again. But that may not be in the cards: Cocooned in an idyll of sorts -- a hurricane's about to hit and the inn is deserted save for the two of them -- Paul and Adrienne fall headlong into love. Still, real life is waiting in the wings; are these two wayward souls meant to be for the moment or fated to be together forever?
Is it any good?
This is a by-the-book tearjerker in which Lane and Gere, who previously co-starred in the outstanding Unfaithful, do the best they can with thin material. The movie feels more like an outline than a fully realized drawing, and it forces the pair too quickly into a swoon-fest of a romance.
Ultimately, even though it asks some interesting questions -- What does it mean to find your soul mate when you think you're way past the typical soul mate stage? What do we owe our kids? -- NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (based on the same-named book by Nicholas Sparks) inevitably suffers from a lack of ambition. Thank goodness for the lead actors, who gamely give it their all. (No one cries better than Lane.) And, what do you know? They almost succeed. When the movie's twist ending kicks in, it actually cuts near to the bone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the questions the movie raises. Is there such a thing as a soul mate? How do you know who the right person is for you? What do parents "owe" their children? Do you agree with how the main characters resolve their dilemmas? Families can also discuss how this movie compares to other romantic dramas. What do they tend to have in common? Do you care if certain parts of a movie like this one are predictable, or are you just in it for the escapism of it all?
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