Playing Mona Lisa
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Claire experiences depression, causing her parents to worry if she'll ever be herself again. Claire's friends believe women must play games to attract men. A gay man who's in denial about his sexuality gets engaged to a woman to keep up appearances. A man implies that he's smarter than the woman he likes because she's a cheerleader. Occasional mild to moderate profanity, with one extreme expletive. Many characters drink excessively, smoke, and use drugs. A character puts drugs in the party food. An engaged character cheats on her fiance. Lots of sex talk, including discussions of orgasms, orgies, and penises. Claire pretends that she has slept with women to impress men. Several female characters dress provocatively, and we see Claire in her underwear. Some passionate kissing. Claire's friend kicks Claire's cheating boyfriend in the groin.
What's the story?
PLAYING MONA LISA is similar to the popular teen movie Sixteen Candles. Both movies feature angst-ridden, red-haired protagonists, as well as self-absorbed older sisters about to get married, flaky mothers, gruff but understanding fathers, and even outspoken grandmothers who comment on their granddaughter's breast development! This story centers on 23-year-old Claire (Alicia Witt), who's training as a classical pianist. Claire's life takes a downward turn when she's told she can't participate in a major music event, she's evicted from her house, and she's dumped by her boyfriend. Forced to move in with her parents (Marlo Thomas and Elliott Gould), Claire struggles to find her footing.
Is it any good?
This movie distinguishes itself from the pack when Claire realizes that she doesn't need a boyfriend to be complete. She chooses to remain alone so that she can figure out what she really wants. Such a message is refreshing for young women conditioned to believe that romantic relationships are essential for personal fulfillment. Although Witt's fine acting carries the movie, a scene in which Claire's parents unknowingly eat drug-laced food showcases Gould and Thomas's comedic talents. While the movie doesn't glorify drug use, it doesn't condemn it, either.
Older teens will easily identify with Claire's breakup and the way she channels her disappointment into unhealthy pursuits. Less believable are the over-the-top personalities of her family--for example, it's unlikely that Claire's sister would be more upset about a ruined engagement party than about the discovery that her fiancée is gay.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Claire's realization that she doesn't need a boyfriend to be complete, and how it can be beneficial for her to remain single so that she can figure out what she really wants.