A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Friendship is a key theme. There is an overriding sense of celebrating life and living it to its fullest. Understanding that time doesn't wait for anyone.
Positive Role Models
Liz, Kate, and Cassie are all strong-willed, independent women. They value their friendship and fulfill their promise to their late friend. But they can be a little insensitive, have affairs, and find themselves in questionable situations, such as when they steal a boat from a harbor. Cassie has a drinking problem and is struggling for custody of her son.
The main characters are all well-rounded, albeit flawed, independent women. But they do show some insensitive behavior as tourists, mimicking the French accent at a shop in Paris. Cultural differences are explored between nationalities, but there is little diversity when it comes to race.
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Violence & Scariness
The plot starts with the premature death of a friend and parent. Characters arrested for criminal damage during a drunk-fueled accident at a street party. A character breaks their hand when falling. At the station, police officers have guns. A gun can later be seen on a mantelpiece. During a fight, a character throws coffee over another and they grapple. There is a brief suicide reference.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Various sexual references, but no actual scenes of a sexual nature. Infidelity, both in the past and present. Characters discuss the menopause, referring to their genitals as "tuppence." They also talk about their breasts and losing their virginity. A character comes downstairs one morning wearing just shirt, alluding to the fact they had sex the night before. Teens who fall for one another are seen kissing.
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Occasional use of the word "f--k." Also "s--t," "bitch," "arse," and "bollocks."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol throughout the movie. This includes drinking wine from the bottle during street parties, shots at nightclubs, and drinking straight vodka. One character is shown to be living with an alcohol disorder. Characters are seen drunk, semi-disorderly, and one even vomits after having too much. A character confesses to being hungover while delivering a baby, and drinks during the birth to get through it. A pilot is seen drinking from a hip flask before flying. Characters are also seen smoking cigarettes. In one scene, ashes are mistaken for class A drugs. A character talks about taking Prozac to help with their depression.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Off the Rails is a sentimental comedy with themes around sex, occasional strong language, drinking, and positive messages about living life to its fullest. Friends Liz (Sally Phillips), Kate (Jenny Seagrove), and Cassie (Kelly Preston) -- all in their 50s -- fulfill their late friend's wish and take a trip across Europe with her daughter, Maddie (Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips). The friends are all flawed characters, but remain likable. They steal a boat, get arrested for criminal damage, and are seen mimicking the French accent when in Paris. Cassie has an alcohol problem and is striving to win custody of her son. There is no real violence of note, but a heated argument does see a character throw her coffee over another. There is also reference to suicide. Sex is discussed frequently, but not in too graphic a detail, and there is no nudity within the movie. In one scene, it is clear a character has had sex the night before. The language is relatively strong, with several uses of the word "f--k" and others such as "s--t," and "bitch." Characters are seen drinking from bottles in the street and they are shown to be inebriated at times. But it's not glorified, in fact when drunk they end up making costly mistakes and live to regret their actions the following day. There are also a number of scenes involving smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a sweet and charming movie that requires an uncynical eye in order to enjoy. There's no escaping the fact that Off the Rails is flawed and that's an understatement. Some of the dialogue is clunky, and the frustrating inclination to throw in drama is contrived and often unnecessary. So much seems to happen to this group, and it all just becomes so unbelievable, and distracting. It's hard not to wish they had more faith in the characters, the story, and the profound themes being explored, so as not to need all the silly sub-plots.
Yet despite these issues, Off the Rails' heart is in the right place, and there's something moving about the general exploration of time and how cruel it can be. Yet it doesn't ever feel dour. Rather it's an upbeat celebration of life. There is an added poignancy given the real-life passing of Preston, making her scenes hard to watch at times. There's also a really brilliant and moving sequence at the start where Judi Dench delivers a powerhouse performance, in less than five minutes of screen-time. Fans of Blondie will also be pleased to hear that they comprise the entire film's soundtrack.
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.