A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie based on the beloved novel by Davis Nicholls is an honest examination of the years-long friendship between two people (played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) who are attracted to each other but unable, at least at first, to recognize their significance to each other. Although it's rated PG-13, the movie deals with mature topics like infidelity, alcoholism, and death. There's quite a bit of sexual content (including brief full nudity), and one of the main characters spends a large part of the movie in a drunken haze. Although the themes may well be relatable for older teens, younger viewers might not appreciate the enormity of the highs and lows of the characters' friendship -- and the realistic depiction of the damage people can inflict even to those they love most. And some teen girls might come away with the idea that if you just wait long enough, the guy you like is sure to come around.
What's the story?
Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet during a university graduation celebration on St. Swithin's Day -- July 15, 1988. Though they nearly sleep together, they ultimately don't, instead spending the night talking and forming the foundation of a curious and evolving friendship. Over the next two decades, they forge their separate paths -- Dexter as a too-hip TV presenter, Emma first as a reluctant restaurant waitress/manager and, later, a teacher and writer. They date others and even fall in love, but through it all their friendship endures, sometimes under the most vexing circumstances. Will they ever realize they're meant for each other? Are they? And if they do, what happens next?
Is it any good?
Unlike David Nicholls' book, this movie adaptation isn't a romance for the ages, sadly. Following in the footsteps of a beloved book is always challenging; how to infuse the cinematic version with the nuance and vision it deserves? The once-a-year check-in that gives the novel structure hampers the momentum here, and the chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess comes and goes -- a crucial flaw in a movie like this.
That's not to say that One Day is a failure; it has enough charm and commitment to power it through. The dialogue, written by Nicholls, feels authentic and is often funny, and the actors are eager to inhabit their characters. And then there's the story -- it's still compelling, relatable, and moving (clunky surprise ending notwithstanding).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dex and Em's friendship. Is it believable? Relatable? Are they equals? Is it important for people in a close friendship to have an equal stake in their relationship?
What messages does the movie send about love? Do you think love is worth more when you have to work hard to achieve it?
How does the movie depict Dex's drinking? Are the consequences of his behavior realistic?
- In theaters: August 19, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: November 29, 2011
- Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson
- Director: Lone Scherfig
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, partial nudity, language, some violence and substance abuse
For kids who love love stories
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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.