A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You don't have to have panic attacks to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Positive Role Models
A 20-year-old tries to figure out what she will do with her life after dropping out of college and learning she has an anxiety disorder. She shoplifts, parties, crashes the car, smokes cigarettes, takes mushrooms, and generally carries on without direction.
Violence & Scariness
We see harrowing depictions of panic attacks, characterized in part by vomiting at times. Although she doesn't have her license, a character illegally drives the car without an accompanying adult, resulting in a minor crash. No one is seriously injured.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A closeup of faces shows two people having sex. The man asks the woman to look at his face while he comes to climax. It's reported that a man left his wife because he was gay. A woman pulls off her shirt to reveal the bra beneath as she indicates she wants to have sex with her boyfriend.
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"F--k" "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "come," "bitch," and "masturbate."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A 20-year-old smokes cigarettes. She also smokes marijuana and takes mushrooms to get high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pink Skies Ahead focuses on the struggles of a 20-year-old who is diagnosed with anxiety disorder after dropping out of college. She returns to live at home with her parents, who have decided to sell the house and move to an apartment, adding to the young woman's woes. She doesn't take the diagnosis seriously and parties, shoplifts, crashes the car, smokes cigarettes, takes mushrooms, and generally carries on without direction, wisecracking her way through the turmoil until harrowing panic attacks derail her. She picks up men at bars and has sex with them. She takes off her shirt to reveal her bra. One asks that she look at his face as he climaxes, but no nudity is shown. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "come," "bitch," and "masturbate." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While Pink Skies Ahead is an important look at the often-undiagnosed difficulties posed by anxiety disorders, the main character isn't terribly likable, nearly erasing the film's assets. The script, largely the autobiographical story of writer-director Kelly Oxford, pretends that Winona is just quirky and lovable, like Elliot Page as the title character in the 2007 comic drama, Juno. But Winona turns her own self loathing on those around her, making her hard to take and jarringly unsympathetic. Compounding the problem is Jessica Barden. She seems to be a competent actor, yet makes the unfortunate choice of beginning her performance at too high an emotional pitch, yelling through much of the dialogue, and leaving herself nowhere to go as the character's problems escalate.
Narratives about young people struggling on the verge of adulthood, as in Edge of Seventeen, Napoleon Dynamite, Clueless, Mean Girls, Euphoria, give us characters who are age-appropriately naïve, uninformed, rash, and struggling with impulse control, but by displaying compassion and empathy, by demonstrating some sense that other people don't exist simply to serve them, they usually remain likable and sympathetic. Winona behaves like a precocious 12-year-old with attitude problems, shoplifting only being one of her more infantile behaviors. "Go masturbate with a fork," she suggests to someone she doesn't like. While driving, Winona natters on as if to an old friend about why she dropped out of college, alluding to a poem she wrote mentioning toilet-flushing. She casually drops expletives. Then it turns out she's in the middle of her DMV road test, oversharing with a complete stranger, the guy grading her performance. Maybe that's exactly the way it happened in real life to the writer-director, but it's her job to make the script better and realer than real life, rather than cute and jokey, which disrespects the material. Nice performances are delivered by Mary J. Blige as the therapist and Henry Winkler as the pediatrician. It would have been great to have seen more of them.
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