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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Tense family scenes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Some strong language.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Substance abuse, including heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has non-explicit teenage sex and pregnancy. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs, including use of a hallucinogenic drug while watching a child and heroin addiction. A character sells drugs, and Bev and Fay briefly become involved in helping him. There is a painful scene of withdrawal. All of this is presented in a realistic manner with realistic consequences that should help teenagers understand the seriousness of this behavior. There's also some strong language. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Like the life of its subject matter, there is a lot that is wrong with this movie, but there is also something right enough for a bittersweet happy ending. This is not an upbeat story with a lot of cute sit-com-y moments. Bev is not a good mother. She is so angry at Ray, her son Jason, and her parents that her behavior is often selfish and bitter. If an actress less irresistible than Barrymore were in the role, we would stop caring whether she ever got to college.
The script makes some odd choices in showing us too many scenes of Bev's despair and nothing about what she did that finally pulled her life together. Jason's romantic involvement seems to tie up too many loose ends to be authentic. Director Penny Marshall bangs too hard on the cultural signifiers of each era Bev lives through, and the soundtrack's songs are pedestrian. But the movie gets four stars just for Barrymore's performance as she shows us Bev at 15, 20, and 35. Zahn, always a marvelous actor in comedy or drama, gives a performance of great generosity and heart. There are also great moments from Brittany Murphy, as Bev's friend Fay, and Woods as Bev's dad.
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.