A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a quirky romance with a mish-mash of themes that includes love, international relations, faith, war, marital infidelity, and fishing. Overall the movie has a genteel feel, and though there's some salty language (including "ass," "bastard, and one use of "f--k"), it's not excessive. Expect some kissing and a couple of love scenes that imply sex, though there's no graphic nudity. There's also some social drinking and smoking, and use of a gun by an attempted assassin.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A wealthy sheikh (Amr Waked) has a dream: to bring salmon fishing -- a soulful, deliberate sport he learned to appreciate in the peace and quiet of Scotland -- to his native Yemen. To realize his vision, he asks a consultant, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), to recruit Britain's top fishing expert, Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), on his behalf. Unfortunately, Dr. Jones thinks it's a folly, and then some. But then the prime minister's press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) decides that the project could bring the government some much-needed feel-good press, especially given the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and the good doctor soon finds himself without a choice but to see the sheik's dream to fruition.
Is it any good?
Adapted from the novel by Paul Torday, this captivating film succeeds for some of the same reasons it infuriates. It approaches its storyline with such wide-eyed innocence, creating wonderful moments of pure heart, that it seems -- depending on which side you're on -- either charming or naive. The central romance between Fred and Harriet unfolds sweetly and believably, even if they seem like such disparate characters. The challenges to their pairing are daunting -- an unsatisfying marriage, a missing boyfriend -- but we root for them. Despite its seeming absurdity, like bringing salmon fishing to the Yemeni desert, their romantic enterprise seems rather noble and disarming.
And then there's the movie's political plot; with Kristin Scott Thomas at the helm, it's biting and hilarious. But tonally, it's a mismatch. Add the sheik's mysticism, his talk of faith and a world that could benefit greatly from the wisdom of the fishermen, and what you get is a bit of a jumble. (The movie doesn't much explore the sheik's motivations; the idea that he wants to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen is taken at face value as a positive, never mind the problems locals have with it.) But the film is both warmhearted and lovely to look at, and perhaps that's enough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Salmon Fishing in the Yemen's messages. What do you think it wants audiences to take away from watching? Does all entertainment need to have a message?
What makes Harriet's and Fred's romance different or similar to that of other movie couples? Did either of them do anything wrong? Why did they hesitate?
- In theaters: March 9, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2012
- Cast: Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Kristin Scott Thomas
- Director: Lasse Hallstrom
- Studio: CBS Films
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and sexual content, and brief language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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