A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sliding Doors is a 1998 fantasy about finding love featuring two parallel stories. By chance, a woman discovers her boyfriend is having an affair at the same time she meets a much nicer guy who's getting divorced. Pregnancy and losing a baby are plot points. Characters drink alcohol to excess and smoke cigarettes. Expect to hear "s--t," "bastard," "blow job," "d--khead," "c--k," "piss," and British slang: "shag," "bollocks," and "bugger."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SLIDING DOORS poses two possible life narratives for Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow), an English PR person supporting her boyfriend (John Lynch), who is home writing a novel. After getting fired, she takes the train home to find him in their bed with another woman. In the parallel story, she misses her train and doesn't discover the cheating until later, even though many clues are evident. Both Helens discover they're pregnant, and both lose the babies in accidents. Helen No. 1 and Helen No. 2 both meet a charming stranger (John Hannah) who is supportive, empathetic, and funny.
Is it any good?
The parallel "what if" construction of this fantasy at first seems interesting and full of potential, but 20 minutes in, you have to wonder about the benefit of the increasingly clunky conceit. As the movie goes on, it turns out that whether Helen learns her useless boyfriend is having an affair sooner or later makes absolutely no difference to the outcome or the artfulness of the movie. In fact, the strategy at first suggests how different life can be if a different path is taken, but that notion is dashed by an ending that delivers two results that are essentially the same. Paltrow is likable, but her English accent is labored and, given the details of the script, utterly unnecessary.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the movie suggests that anyone's life can take a different course by chance. Do you believe that is true? Why, or why not?
The movie suggests that when people are sad they might drink too much alcohol. Do you think getting drunk helps the main character with her problems? How else could she cope?
Were you surprised by the ending? How would you have ended the movie?
- In theaters: April 15, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 1998
- Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn
- Director: Peter Howitt
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for some sexuality and language
- Last updated: January 16, 2020
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