Parents' Guide to

Shiva Baby

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Dark comedy about transactional sex has strong language.

Movie NR 2021 77 minutes
Shiva Baby Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

A horror film type score and a strong ensemble cast!

A strong film that captures beautifully the insecurity of being a young woman and trying to navigate adulthood, sexuality, relationships, and parental expectations. So many actors shine here: Sennott, Draper and Gordon are standouts with Argon not far behind. But what all of the actors get right is the tone of the film. The score is excellent and helps portray the stifling claustrophobia that the film seeps into every scene. The breakdown with her mom...priceless.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

Comedy thrives on wacky concepts, but an unlikable main character in an annoying situation is a much tougher sell. In her feature writing and directing debut, Emma Seligman first traps Danielle in a small house to pay respects for the loss of her bubbe's bridge partner -- she can't leave because of social etiquette (plus, her parents are her ride). Then the filmmaker really piles it on. First Danielle's parents coach her on how to discuss her gender studies degree and her work as a babysitter to make it sound more like she's going places. She's pummeled by questions from the family's loving but judgmental friends. Her much more successful high school girlfriend, Maya (Molly Gordon), shows up, and when Danielle is facing her, she must also face her life choices. Then, Max shows up. With his wife. And their baby. Danielle wants to escape -- and, unfortunately, so do we.

It's almost impossible to root for Danielle. Even when she's living in the horror of her worlds colliding, she doesn't back down: She doubles down. And yet the story isn't intended to be a cautionary tale or a judgment on Danielle. What may spark empathy with viewers is the fact that she's feeling pressured in an environment that equates success in terms of heterosexual marriage and a high-earning career. With no real idea of what she wants to do in the future, she buoys her ego by using what she's got now: her sexuality. Seligman proves she has talent as a comedy writer: The dialogue is filled with double-edged zingers ("You look like Gwyneth Paltrow on food stamps -- and not in a good way"). She also needs to be recognized for creating a film immersed in Jewish culture that includes LGBTQ+ characters. Seligman wrote Shiva Baby based on her own experiences, and it certainly feels like an authentic portrayal. But it's also a chaotic world of busybodies that outsiders may not want to be a part of. And, in some ways, it perpetuates stereotypes. So the question some viewers may be left with is: Does her creation do more harm than good?

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