A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Oh, Ramona! is a Romanian film (in English) from a Romanian novel about a 16-year-old nerd's complicated love life. No body parts are shown, but the movie frankly portrays teen sex as well as drinking and marijuana use. A boy runs out of the house nude, with only a long sock covering his penis. The narrator addresses the audience directly at moments, warning when sex or drug use are about to be demonstrated, pointing out that kids may be in the audience. A joint is replaced by a banana and smoke appears when people take bites, and the camera provides close-ups of different foods (in one case a pair of lemons with pierced ends) being fondled instead of breasts. Other cinematic metaphors for sex are shown as well. Language, however, is uncensored, and includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "d--k," "p---y," and "t-tties." A drunk woman drives fast and recklessly. Several people, along with the film in general, mock and degrade fat girls. A bully slaps a classmate he's forcing to do his homework. A girl's face is bruised after her boyfriend hits her. A boy's face is bruised after a bully hits him. A girl head-butts a guy and gives him a bloody nose. A mother threatens to put her son's "d--k in the grinder" if he gets a girl pregnant. A story is told about a betrayed woman who cooks her boyfriend's hamster and feeds it to him.
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What's the story?
The OH, RAMONA! of the title is the hottest girl at school (Polish actor Aggy K. Adams), and the girl who nerdy Andrei (Romanian actor Bagdon Iancu) has loved from afar for years. One night, she tries to seduce him, seemingly for fun, and he refuses, explaining that he only wants to have sex with her if they're in a lifetime relationship. This makes him seem like a sweet romantic who values love over sex. The rejection drives Ramona to do everything she can to make him miserable. She spreads the rumor that Andrei is gay. She tells people that he hit her, when her bruises were actually caused by another guy. Distraught, Andrei goes on vacation and meets Anemona (British actor Holly Horne), the beautiful blond concierge at his hotel. They have sex (they are shown in bed but body parts are replaced by close-ups of fingers going in and out of a honey jar, and hands fondling two round pink cupcakes topped with cherries in the center). She confesses she has a boyfriend, so they part sadly. But when Andrei returns home, he immediately boasts that he has a girlfriend, even though he has neither Anemona's phone number nor her last name. Ramona, mean as ever, keeps tempting Andrei back, so he plots revenge to make her fall for him. This succeeds just as Anemona decides to visit and relight their fire. He juggles the two girls but eventually picks one. Suddenly he's a happily-in-love grown-up and famed author of a best-selling novel. However, he cheats on his girl, leaving the audience with no one to like.
Is it any good?
This is an annoyingly bad movie that sometimes is surprisingly engaging. Much of it is cringe-inducing. For example, a cluelessly geeky boy continues to pursue the school's prettiest and most sexually aggressive girl even though his ultimate humiliation is the only possible outcome. When the tables turn and we find him sympathetic, the girl is portrayed to be deeply and abidingly evil, so we wonder why he continues to go after someone who will clearly do her best to destroy him. Later, he seeks revenge -- he gets a cooler wardrobe and stops wearing his glasses -- playing a Casanova and, in effect, becomes as morally compromised as the girl he seeks to bring down.
Oh Ramona! may appeal to older teens who are also debating in their own lives decisions about sex, drugs, alcohol, and social situations, but they'll shudder at Andrei's continuing bad choices. Adding to an uneven, odd tone is the fact that a Romanian actor speaks English with an Americanized Romanian accent, idioms and all ("I gotta bounce"). For an Eastern European Romanian audience, this may reflect concerns about a growing youth movement toward adopting, for better or worse, Westernized habits, but for Americans, such subtleties will be lost.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way that Andrei starts as a guy with high principles and sweet romantic notions about women. How does he change? Does his transformation suggest Oh, Ramona! is saying that even nice guys don't stay nice? Do you agree?
The movie focuses largely on teen sex but takes pains to use everyday objects to substitute for naked body parts and sexual acts. Yet a boy is seen running naked except for a sock covering his penis. What message do you think the movie is trying to convey about our bodies and sex?
Does the movie seem to be offering a comic look at sex? Do you think that's a good thing? Why or why not?
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