A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Be there for your family and sisterhood. Accept people for who they are. Don't hide from your dreams. Try to take advantage of your gifts. Don't be afraid to receive help from others.
Positive Role Models
Despite being embarrassing to her sister, Jenny is unabashedly supportive of Anne and genuinely wants to see her break out of her shell, be her best self, and achieve her dreams. Anne is nervous and comfortable in her quiet life but realizes that she could be achieving more if she got over her hang-ups. With the help of Jenny, she fights her anxiety.
The main characters are two Asian American women (Awkwafina and Sandra Oh), one of whom plays against type. Occasionally making fun of Asian American stereotypes, they also encounter one or two actual instances of racism. The other characters are White, Asian, and Black.
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Violence & Scariness
A woman comically gets knocked over by a car going slowly. A self-described "sexual cannibal" calls up a woman and asks her for a date. A woman shares a story about how her father died from falling off a cruise ship and drowning.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some casual referencing of ex-boyfriends and relationships.
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Strong language includes a few instances of "f--k," "f---ing," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and "goddamn."
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Products & Purchases
Brief references to Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Google, Reddit, Twitter, and Heinz ketchup.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult is briefly shown vaping. One scene features a woman pulling out different bags of pills, including what she calls "party pills," and cocaine. Another woman takes some of these drugs and proceeds to experience a couple of varieties of "highs" that include hallucinations. A mother figure is described as being an alcoholic and a gambling addict.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Quiz Lady is a comedy about two Asian American sisters (Awkwafina and Sandra Oh) who must try to win a quiz show in order to cover their mother's gambling debts. There are a few moments of comical violence, like when a woman gets knocked over by a car or when a woman is asked out on a date by a man claiming to be a "sexual cannibal." The two sisters' parents are also described as being alcoholics, going on benders, and gambling addicts. The father died in the past by falling off a cruise ship and drowning. A woman vapes and has a cache of various drugs, mainly pills of different kinds, but also cocaine. Another woman takes a few different pills and gets very high and hallucinates. Strong language includes every variation of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and "goddamn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Unfortunately, this comedy, while watchable, still feels like it's trying too hard to be funny. While the two primary performances in Quiz Lady are very good, with both Awkwafina and Sandra Oh turning in solid work, they ultimately can't sustain the movie. The plot is paper thin, and while the supporting cast tries their best to assist the main narrative, their roles are all too brief and supplementary. It certainly feels like the talents of Will Ferrell, Holland Taylor, Tony Hale, and Jason Schwartzman are underutilized here, relegated to flat portrayals that don't allow them to flex, improvise, or be creatively surprising at all. The only explosivity comes from Oh, who is effortlessly energetic, unabashedly shameless, and free as a bird. But she is the only bright source of unpredictability, as the plot is fully formed and predictable 10 minutes in.
And yet there is a clear tenderness, sincerity, and heart to this film. There is a hopeful core inside the themes, if not the plot, that speaks to sisterhood, unflinching belief in destiny, and overcoming self-made barriers. Anne and Jenny are very believable sisters who clearly didn't have the stereotypical Asian American childhood and upbringing. With both parents absent (the father dying prematurely, the gambling addict mother being irresponsible), the two sisters have had to navigate life without a strong support system, and only later in life are they forced to reconcile under a premise that demands that they make sacrifices for their selfish and thoughtless mother. But the severity of their predicament is understandably laughed off because this film really wants to keep things light. Because of this aim, however, the film only dips its toes into serious commentary (on racism, stereotypes, gender roles) rather than going all in.
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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