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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Everyone deserves happiness. Storyline helps promote awareness/acceptance of those with unusual medical conditions. On the other hand, it suggests that a woman being loud and talkative is a negative but that men would be willing to "overlook" those qualities because of her beauty. And when a man spurns a beautiful woman, another man asks whether the first one is gay.
Positive Role Models
Charlie has cataplexy, a medical condition similar to narcolepsy that makes those who have it fall asleep when they experience strong emotion. Using humor, the film helps viewers become aware of the condition and how it affects people's lives. While he's self-conscious about it, no one treats Charlie differently because of it, nor does it deter women from pursuing a relationship with him (romantic or friendship). His brother looks out for his safety and operates as a protector.
Violence & Scariness
Aggressive pushing leads to a dangerous situation, but no one is injured. A character passes out on the sidewalk and hits his head, which bleeds.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romance-centric plot involves quite a bit of sexual banter and some crude innuendo. Despite all the talk about wanting and planning to have sex -- and even two comical bedroom scenes going on simultaneously -- no one actually does the deed.
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Swearing isn't constant but includes "ass," "a--hole," "bitches," "crap," "frickin'," "goddamn," "s--t," "sucks," and "oh, Jesus." Innuendo/racy language includes "blue balls," "hand jobs," "jerked it," "skank," "t-tties."
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Products & Purchases
Joke about Pabst beer, which is seen and consumed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink in social settings. A laugh is shared over a memory of smoking a joint.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ode to Joy is a fictional romcom partially inspired by a true story about a man (Martin Freeman) who has decided that love isn't in the cards for him because he has cataplexy, a medical condition that makes someone fall asleep when they experience strong emotion, especially happiness ... including sexual pleasure. Sex, therefore, is a focal point of the story and a frequent source of humor. Although no one officially does the deed, the funniest scenes are when two couples try (unsuccessfully) to consummate their relationships. And most of the movie's strong language is in regard to sex, too -- "hand jobs," "t-tties," etc. -- although other curse words are also heard ("a--hole," "s--t"). Other topics explored include what it's like to be the sibling of someone with a medical condition and nursing a family member who's dying of cancer. There's some social drinking, and characters share a memory of smoking a joint. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Jason Winer wakes up the romcom genre with this eccentric, amusing film about a guy who can't stay conscious. Romance movies always revolve around an obstacle that the central couple has to overcome, and disease has become the go-to since The Fault in Our Stars. By using an actual illness that causes Charlie to pass out every time he feels happiness (the movie was partially inspired by a true story featured on the NPR radio program This American Life), Ode to Joy offers one of the more original romantic challenges to hit the big screen. Because cataplexy is more annoying than life threatening, it doesn't feel too problematic to mine humor from the awkwardness the condition presents -- like Charlie avoiding happy families and cute dogs in an effort to stay upright.
But it's the staid woman who thinks she's in a relationship with him, Bethany, who's a barrel of snorts and chortles. Melissa Rauch's take on boring Bethany is anything but. From the moment she's introduced, everything Bethany utters is pure comedy in the form of throwaway zingers. In her soft, nasal voice, Bethany shares her knitting class' distress over their instructor substituting yak wool after being promised alpaca: "One guy had to take a time out. It was crazy intense." It's in those kind of unexpected corners where the film thrives. Charlie's brother (Jake Lacy) is another gem: Named after the family dog, Cooper is an irreverent kindergarten teacher who's part pet, part protector for his big brother. Completing the foursome is Francesca (Morena Baccarin), an extrovert who seems to live life loudly but is really as emotionally paralyzed as Charlie. And therein lies the ironic brilliance. By using disease as a crutch for self-sabotage, subtle humor that comes out of left field, and characters that you've never seen before and yet you feel like you know, Winer delivers a clever romcom for those who've been around the block a time or two.
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.