Rachel Getting Married

 
(i)

 

Intense, insightful family drama celebrates love.
  • Review Date: October 1, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A dysfunctional family, still mourning the death of a loved one, unravels during a wedding weekend. Feelings are honestly aired, and the words sting. But there's also a whole lot of love going around, and not just because the central event is a wedding. Though angry with each other and deeply confused, relatives clearly care for each other and wish each other well.

Violence

Screaming and arguing among family members. At one point, two relatives actually get physical, and it's ugly, though very telling. A character purposefully drives straight into a street sign and beyond.

Sex

Two people who are virtual strangers have a quick tryst in a dark room (hardly any nudity shown). Some suggestive dancing.

Language

Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t" "c--ksucker," and "bastard."

Consumerism

Some mentions of Rite Aid, the Olympic Games, and the TV series Cops. Pellegrino bottles are displayed prominently.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The central character is a former junkie, and there's frank conversation about things she's done while high. She also smokes. Several scenes show Narcotics Anonymous meetings; the 12-step process is referred to often. Some social drinking during a wedding and rehearsal dinner.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense family drama addresses certain subjects -- drug addiction, death, family dysfunction -- that may be overwhelming for younger teens who are drawn to it by Anne Hathaway's star power. But they're dealt with so sensitively and compassionately that older teens may find the film quite impactful. Expect plenty of swearing and social drinking (as well as discussions about alcoholism and drug use). Characters also explore dark emotional terrain, and adult family members are hurtful -- verbally and physically -- to each other.

What's the story?

As the title proclaims, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is getting married. In the works is a joyful, multicultural wedding -- she's a WASP, her fiance is African American, the theme is Indian -- that promises to embrace everyone into the fold, even Rachel's wayward sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway). On furlough from yet another stint in rehab, Kym's determined to keep it together. But it's not easy, especially when you're confronted by a well-meaning father (Bill Irwin) who hovers and shields the enormous pain he obviously feels, a distant mother (Debra Winger) who's determined to move on even if it means leaving you behind, and a sister who can't quite mask her rage even on the happiest of days. And then there's the past: The consequences of a family tragedy that happened while Kym was high are still omnipresent.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is stunningly moving, though there will be viewers who will be frustrated by its pace. It takes its time to blossom, dwelling on moments that many other, lesser films would have skipped (the dishwasher contest, the musical interludes). But in making that artistic decision, director Jonathan Demme manages to get us so invested in his characters that it feels like whatever's happening onscreen is happening to us, and we're unquestionably moved. Long after the credits roll, we'll still be thinking about it.

Kudos belongs to so many: To Hathaway, for reminding us once more -- after Brokeback Mountain -- of her deep well of talent (her big eyes and nearly too-gaunt face serve her well in such a haunting -- and haunted -- role). To the rest of the ensemble for turning in such fine-tuned performances, neither overplaying nor underacting. To the masterful Demme, who allowed the script to breathe. And to screenwriter Jenny Lumet (daughter of acclaimed director Sidney Lumet). One of the things that makes a screenwriter great is the ability to tell the truth, which Lumet does beautifully. If only every wedding ceremony was as unorthodox, as stirring as this one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What does it say about the power of forgiveness, especially of forgiving yourself? How is the movie similar to, and different from, others that deal with addiction? Is it a realistic portrayal? Does that make it easier or harder to watch? Are there typical clichés and pitfalls that this movie manages to avoid? Which ones, and how? Families can also discuss why Kym acts the way she does when she comes home. Why does she seem so uncomfortable? How does her family react to her? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2008
DVD release date:March 10, 2009
Cast:Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt
Director:Jonathan Demme
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Genre:Drama
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and brief sexuality.

This review of Rachel Getting Married was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byilikemovies13 July 5, 2009
 

Amazing Movie For Older Teens

This was a truly moving and amazing movie. It dealt with some really heavy issues and I found it to be amazingly thought provoking. It was well written with few flaws and was surprisingly enjoyable.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byeastside01 June 15, 2009
 

Who cares that Rachel is getting married.

Rachel getting married is Jonathan Demme's weak attempt to make a wedding memorable. The 1st problem is that there are way to many cliches and at the end everyone is supposed to be fine after "tragic" stuff. The 2nd flaw is probably the biggest is that when you get to the house you want to immediately leave after the first hour or so. The only thing that makes this good even a little is Anne Hathaway's daring turn as the disturbed sister but not even she can save this movie.
Teen, 13 years old Written bydwiggit101 January 10, 2010
 

Very insightful and great movie! :)

I loved this movie! It's all about forgivness. Not only is it about forgiving other people, but it's about being able to forgive yourself and turning to God for strength. Wonderful! Some F-words. Mature teens and adults only!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages

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