A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, contrary to what the ad campaign might have you believe, this is a somewhat sad movie that deals with loss and grief -- not a straightforward romantic comedy. Its messages -- tell the people you care about that you love them before it's too late, and live life to the fullest -- are admirable, and its characters are goodhearted. But there's a fair amount of strong language (no "f--k," though there's plenty of "s--t" and "goddamn"), some frank talk about sex, and partial nudity. The movie also seems obsessed with getting the main character, Holly, hooked up with another man, as if that's the only fix for the widowed heart.
What's the story?
P.S. I LOVE YOU is a sweet and fairly moving film that somewhat convincingly traces the trajectory of grief. After her husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler), a charismatic Irishman, dies much too young of a brain tumor, Manhattan real estate broker Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) is overcome with grief. She holes up in their apartment, watching Bette Davis movies, mooning over Gerry's pictures, wearing his clothes, and skipping her daily shower. Her sorrow virtually paralyzes her. (Crying yet?) But one day, she receives a letter that Gerry wrote to her before he passed away -- the first of many urging her to break out of her mournful shell. He insists that Holly celebrate her birthday with her friends, try karaoke, fly to Ireland (where she hooks up with the very attractive Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Is it any good?
P.S. I Love You would be fine if it were a drama. But it's supposed to be a romantic comedy, a chick flick -- or at least it's been pitched that way in ads and trailers, and therein lies the problem. There's no denying Swank's talent, but let's face it: She's better off in the dramas that made her famous than in a frothy movie like this. Try as she might, she's just too serious, too -- dare we say it? -- good at emoting her sadness that she's unable to make this film much fun. (And isn't that the point of a rom-com?) Not even the presence of a comic genius like Lisa Kudrow can pull the movie out of its misery. Even the usually appealing Harry Connick Jr. is a dud here as an oddball love interest who can't hold back his often-rude observations (he has Tourette Syndrome)
It's not that P.S. I Love You doesn't have any redeeming value. On the contrary; it's entertaining enough. Director Richard LaGravenese has some fine moments; the Emerald Isle looks beautiful, indeed, and the story unfolds at a jaunty enough pace. (There's also a small, refreshing twist near the end.) But what's the deal with the stereotypes? Do all Irishmen smile, sing, and play the guitar? And enough already with Swank's abs, of which there are way too many close-ups.
Ultimately, though, it's a lightweight attempt to imbue lightness onto a dark subject. The moral of the story? Widowhood isn't funny. At least not in this film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to other romantic comedies. How does the sad premise affect the overall tone? Can approaching grief with humor help make it easier to bear? Why or why not? Also, why do you think so many people expect Holly to fall in love with someone else? Do Hollywood movies perpetuate the idea that, to move on after a loss, you have to fall in love again? Is that realistic? Does the film's ending, especially the part about romance, surprise you? Why?
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