Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Family movie night? There's an app for that

Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.

Parents' Guide to

Ode to Joy

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Randy romcom full of quirky laughs, bawdy language.

Movie R 2019 97 minutes
Ode to Joy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

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.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate