A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Smashed has the complicated, difficult message that if an alcoholic quits drinking, the rest of his or her life might not automatically be improved. In fact, things could get worse. But the main character continues to struggle and look forward, in spite of much misfortune.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a chronic alcoholic. She struggles to overcome this addiction and sometimes stumbles in the midst of continuing obstacles and misfortune. She tries to correct her past behavior, including admitting a lie, though it costs her a job. She could provide an opportunity for teens to learn about the struggles and hardships of alcoholism, and she could provide a character to empathize with.
Violence & Scariness
Characters fight and shout at one another, but no hitting or physical violence is shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity is shown, but a married couple is shown kissing and initiating sex with each other. One attempt at sex is thwarted because a drunken lover keeps falling asleep. In a brutal scene, a violently drunk woman tries to initiate sex with her husband.
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Strong language throughout, including many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "damn," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
McDonald's is shown and mentioned. The main character explains how, when they were poor, her mother used to stock up on McDonald's hamburgers and freeze them. Later, viewers see that the mother still does this; she thaws out a plate of burgers to serve to guests.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Chronic alcoholism is the movie's main subject. The main character drives drunk, gets violently angry with others, passes out and wakes up in strange places, urinates in her bed and on the floor, and throws up in front of a classroom full of children. She drinks upon waking up in the morning and hunts for last sips of alcohol in a table full of empty bottles. She's shown to be unable to stop drinking once she starts. In one scene, another woman goads her into smoking crack. At about the one-third point, the character realizes she has a problem and starts attending AA meetings. She falls off the wagon once.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Smashed is a gritty drama about a woman who's an alcoholic and tries to stop drinking. (Her husband is also a heavy drinker, and he doesn't stop.) Though the main character's alcoholism is really only shown during the movie's first third, it's intense, and the horrifying side effects of her drinking start to outweigh whatever fun she's having. She also smokes crack in one scene. Language is the movie's other big issue, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." There's no physical violence but expect lots of shouting and arguing; there's no nudity, but viewers see a married couple kissing and initiating sex with one another. There's also a failed attempt at sex. Overall, this is a well-made cautionary tale with hope as well as harshness, and it could be a good way for teens to learn empathy for people facing addiction. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Winstead, who has been cast as a token cute girl in many mainstream movies, clearly jumped at the chance to show off her acting chops in this well-made independent movie. She soars during her scenes of intoxication and suffers during her scenes of sobriety. She makes her struggle very human, making it easy to empathize with her troubles. The rest of the cast, including Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer from The Help, offers strong support.
SMASHED director and co-writer James Ponsoldt keeps up a good pace and refuses to let the material get too heavy. He avoids turning Alcoholism (with a capital "A") into the main subject. He focuses on the characters and their slip ups, jokes, frustrations, and all the imperfections that make up a person. Moreover, his visual style appears lived-in, slightly worn, and comfortable, rather than pristine or overly designed. Smashed is a good pick even for people who tend to avoid issue movies.
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.