Spinster

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Spinster Movie Poster Image
Complainer comedy has dour tone, strong language, drinking.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You should be the greatest love of your life. Women have option to do what they want with their life; there's no need to conform to society's expectations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A single woman chooses to embrace and invest in herself. Women enjoy their careers in medicine, science, and food industries. A lawyer who chose to become a stay-at-home mom is happy with her choice. Male romantic interests represent realistic body types, appearance.

Violence

Arguments.

Sex

Plot revolves around romance, or lack of it. A lot of negative conversation about concept of marriage. A post-sex scene shows couple in bed, woman wearing a sexy bra. Crass references to oral sex. A kiss. Painting of a nude woman. 

Language

Frequent strong language includes "ass," "bulls--t," "crap," "s--t," and several uses of "f--k." Middle-finger gesture. Crass sexual conversation includes a rude gesture and words "balls" and "d--k." 

Consumerism

A Jeep seems like it could be product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults recollect positive memories about "taking 'shrooms" and want to do it again. Characters frequently drink wine and beer in social situations. Debate about whether someone is sober enough to drive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spinster is an unconventional romcom. At 39, Gaby (Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Chelsea Peretti) doesn't want to get married or have kids, and she spends a year looking for confirmation that that's OK in the modern world. That said, the film's feminist outlook is largely eclipsed by Gaby's overwhelming negativity, which overshadows the message that women should be able to create a life that fits their desires rather than society's. While she dumps on everything and everyone, she is a successful small business owner who becomes comfortable with the idea of being alone, nestling into loving and believing in herself and bolstering her tween niece's self-esteem. Most of the movie's female characters are intelligent, with careers and life choices that reflect that. One scene picks up the moment sex is over, showing Gaby in a bra. Characters drink frequently, talk about "taking 'shrooms," swear ("s--t," "f--k," etc.), and make crude references to oral sex. 

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What's the story?

In SPINSTER, baker Gaby's (Chelsea Peretti) boyfriend breaks up with her on her 39th birthday. Over the course of the next year, she considers what she wants to do with her life -- and whether having a partner is all it's cracked up to be.

Is it any good?

Welcome to Debbie Downer: The Movie. Gaby is down on love, down on marriage, down on family. Frankly, she's a drag, and it's a big ask to invite audiences to hang out with her for an hour and a half. Despite wickedly cynical dialogue that could be hilarious coming from, say, Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Tiffany Haddish, Peretti's pessimistic delivery doesn't get much in the way of laughs.

What Spinster lacks in style, mirth, and likability, it makes up for in meat. Gaby questions the validity of marriage and children as a blanket application in the modern age. She debates happily married women with children, a judgmental oaf, and her own remarried father -- and finds solace in the happiness of her gray-haired neighbor who's fulfilled by her purposeful work. Most of the supporting characters are refreshing because they look like real people, not Hollywood versions of real people. The female characters have realistic careers, and men with realistic bodies and appearances are objects of desire. These are positive steps in an authentic direction. But there's no denying that Gaby is an energy suck, and while Spinster has a positive message, you and your teen may be too drained to care.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the expectations that society puts on people. How are those expectations typically different for women than they are for men? Why is that?

  • Would you categorize Spinster as a romance? Why or why not?

  • Did you find Gaby likable? Do you have to like the main character to enjoy a movie?

  • Do you think this indie film portrays people more realistically than typical big-budget Hollywood movies? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think the filmmakers thought it was important for Gaby to put a stop to Adele's people-pleasing behavior?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong female characters

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