A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is a demonstration of profound friendship. Love isn't just feeling, it's doing. The point is also made that people are more than the job or money they have. Themes include compassion, courage, gratitude, integrity, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Dane is selfless, generous, supportive, and compassionate. He's an example of what it looks like to truly be there for a friend. Representation includes supporting characters of color.
Violence & Scariness
Verbal hostility. Smacking and shoving. Storyline deals frankly with terminal illness and loss; characters are sad, and a woman is shown in her final stages of life: frail, in excruciating pain, and in the throes of psychosis.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several affectionate scenes between a married couple, including showering together (nothing explicit shown). A character's dating life is a recurring topic. Kissing. Joke about phone sex.
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Strong language throughout, including: "ass," "a--hole," "boobies," "dips--t," "goddamn," "nutsack," "s--t," and several uses of "f--k," including "Jesus f--king Christ."
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Products & Purchases
T-shirt with a particular restaurant name on it is seen several times.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer is served with dinner and in social situations. Joke about someone smelling like cigarettes. Prescribed medications are shown and discussed throughout, but nothing is taken for the sake of pleasure.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Our Friend is an emotional friendship drama based on the true story of a young woman named Nicole (Dakota Johnson) -- a wife, mother, and friend -- who's dying of cancer. It's an unflinching examination of terminal illness and shows Nicole in her final stages: frail, in excruciating pain, and in the throes of psychosis. Viewers also see earlier times in her life, including the trajectory of her marriage to Matt (Casey Affleck), from affection and sudsy shared showers (nothing graphic shown) to contention, matters of infidelity, and ultimately his role as an exhausted nurse to her. But through it all, love is always present. While the story is focused on adults, Nicole and Matt's 10-year-old daughter expresses her anger at the situation. It's morose, but the light is the couple's extraordinary friend, Dane (Jason Segel), who shows up to help temporarily and ends up staying for more than a year, giving up his own life to help them through a terrible time. Swearing ("s--t," "f--k," etc.) permeates the film, and characters drink beer, but the biggest issue here is that a story about losing a parent may be scary and too emotionally taxing for kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
When you see "written by Brad Ingelsby" on any future movie posters, be assured that you're about to take a well-crafted, authentic, emotional walk in someone else's shoes. As he did in American Woman (2019) and The Way Back (2020), the screenwriter turns away from the action crime dramas of his past (Run All Night, Out of the Furnace) to zoom in how tragedy affects the human condition, particularly parents and spouses. This journey, like the prior two, blazes an empathetic path to understanding the pain and eventual personal growth that results from loss in unthinkable situations.
What makes Our Friend different is that the journey isn't solo. Matt and Nicole share a best friend from their college days who is, truly, the best of us. At the expense of his own life, Dane moves in to help bear the responsibility. The way in which everyone accepts this suggests that Matt, Nicole, and their circle don't believe that Dane's situation -- as a retail store manager and boyfriend -- holds much value, since they allow him to make such a sacrifice. Some even seem to see him as a loser, a man child who never grew up./ And viewers may initially think that, too. But slowly we learn more about him and why he'd make such an epic commitment. That shifting perspective can create a feeling of being unmoored: Whose story is this, anyway? Is it Matt -- who eventually writes about the experience? Or Nicole -- who's certainly the central figure? Or Dane -- the title character, whose personal experience gets the least screen time and whose true feelings are the most distant? Combined with the jumps back and forth in time, the film sometimes feels drifty. It's a technique that works well in the TV drama This Is Us, but in a film, it's not as effective. It does, however, provide insight into how terminal illness affects a family and offers an unforgettable, real example of pure human love.
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.
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