Sister of the Groom

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Sister of the Groom Movie Poster Image
Heavy drugs, drinking in midlife crisis comedy.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The people who get under our skin are the ones that push us to grow. Theme of finding self-acceptance. On the other hand, also strongly suggests that drugs and alcohol enhance your life. And upper middle class characters are shown lacking in certain aspects of life because of their lack of funds.

Positive Role Models

While Audrey has good intentions in creating a relationship with the woman who will be her sister-in-law, the film demonstrates through exaggeration how tiny slights can build over time to create hard feelings. In terms of positive representations, Jewish culture and traditions are featured in a central way.

Violence

A young woman is drugged against her will. Yelling during a heated argument.

Sex

Young woman shown topless several times (non-sexual context). Masturbation. A porn site is highlighted. Extensive focus on love, marriage, and former dating relationships. Pregnancy termination in the context of a loving relationship is a recurring topic.

Language

Strong language includes "a--holes," "bulls--t," "godamn," "p---y," "s--t," and multiple uses of "f--k.". 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters take MDMA and talk repeatedly about its benefits in a serious way. Smoking. Adults drink wine and beer during dinner and social gatherings. Tequila shot taken as a coping mechanism; shown in a positive light. Only the antagonist doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sister of the Groom is a comedy about a woman (Alicia Silverstone) experiencing a midlife crisis on her 40th birthday. The movie repeatedly suggests that substance use is beneficial. The only character who doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs is depicted negatively over that behavior. Meanwhile, MDMA is described as a drug that brings joy and health benefits and heals trauma. Several characters take the drug, as well as smoke and drink, including consuming an aphrodisiac cocktail. While there's more talk about the lack of sex than anything actually happening, one character does masturbate while watching porn. And a woman is shown topless for an extended period of time, although not in a sexual context. Talk about past pregnancy terminations comes up frequently; strong language includes "s--t" and several uses of "f--k."

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What's the story?

SISTER OF THE GROOM follows Audrey (Alicia Silverstone), a happily married stay-at-home mother of 10-year-old twins who's trying to get back into the workforce. When she meets her brother's fiancee (Mathilde Ollivier) -- a young, beautiful, and unkind French pop star -- at the couple's weekend destination wedding, the two women clash, leaving Audrey to believe that she needs to stop the wedding. 

Is it any good?

Women in their 40s may well find plenty to relate to in this "momedy," but skip it for mother-daughter movie night. It really digs into the unflattering realities of being a woman who's dealing with life's middle years, exposing the insecurities, self-doubts, jealousies, and wishful fantasies that some women experience. Audrey's life is kind of like a Facebook feed. From the outside perspective, she seems to have it all: an enviable marriage to a wonderful guy (Tom Everett Scott, also Silverstone's hubby in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul) and two daughters -- a nice family, and a nice life. But on the inside, she's in turmoil, feeling like she's been short changed. Being pregnant with twins left her stomach stretched and saggy, and she's desperate to get an expensive surgery. She let her career as an architect slide so she could be a present mother but now feels like she wasted her talent. Feeling pushed out her brother's life by his beautiful young fiancée, who has the world at her feet, causes Audrey to review her life choices with regret and jealousy.

But the takeaways for teens are all negative: You can "have it all" and still be unhappy, having babies destroys your body, and money can buy happiness. Sure, some adults might think there's some truth in that. But they're not exactly the greatest messages for kids at the beginning of their life's journey. The film also strongly suggests that drugs and alcohol enhance your life. And while Audrey may have her relatable moments, she ultimately treads in illegal and unethical territory that's alarming. As a selection for Moms' Night Out, it's an excellent choice, including the realization that the messiness of emotion in middle life is normal. For everyone else, it's a downer. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how substance use is depicted in Sister of the Groom. How do your own opinions of/beliefs around drinking and drug use compare to the characters'?

  • How does Audrey's disappointment with her life compare to her reality? What do you think the conversation about "creating your own reality" is supposed to mean?

  • How does the film show that unrecognized jealousy can damage relationships?

  • Do you agree with the writer-director that this is a romantic comedy? Compare it to others in that category.

  • How are Jewish religious rituals and culture included in the film? Why are inclusion and representation in cinema important?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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