A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this twist romance wrapped up in a sci-fi thriller tackles some complicated themes -- i.e. who controls our fate? -- that might be too overwhelming for tweens and younger. The way the movie addresses them is also pretty tricky to follow, though it’s sure to spur some mind-bending questions. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and a few scenes with drinking, as well as one relatively tame love scene. There are also tense chase sequences, fistfights, and a shocking car accident.
What's the story?
On the night that his bid for senator of New York fails, irreverent candidate David Norris (Matt Damon) takes on more than he bargained for when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a modern dancer he thinks may be the love of his life. But at the same time, he also discovers that the world is run according to a master plan dictated by a mysterious “chairman,” who deploys suited and fedora-hatted men to make sure adjustments are made (hence the title of the movie) so no one strays too far from preordained arrangements. David, in meeting Elise, has strayed. He’s not meant to run into her. But love is messy and can’t be tamed in this film inspired by a Philip K. Dick story, and David won’t give up until he get what he wants: a happily ever after.
Is it any good?
This strange hybrid of a movie -- part Bourne Identity, part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and part Romeo and Juliet (yes, it’s that knotty) -- certainly isn't perfect. To start, inconsistencies abound: Why does David’s watcher come to his aid? Is the chairman God? And the suit-and-hat men are too amorphous. There's also some genre confusion; the movie sells itself, especially in the first act, as a suspenseful thriller, but then it takes a hard left into romantic territory, making for an unsubtle transition that’s hard to shake. Though you'll probably like where it ends up, you're left with the unmistakable feeling that there was another movie in there somewhere, still waiting to unfold.
But despite its issues, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU works. It’s a romance unlike most others we see onscreen -- taut, suspenseful, and unabashedly passionate. Damon and Blunt, though not exactly scorching, share an easy, playful, sometimes tender chemistry. Though they don’t appear hungry for each other, physically, they convince as a couple inextricably drawn to and deeply familiar with each other. No, the film’s not perfect, but neither is love -- or life.
Talk to your kids about ...
What is the movie saying about people's fate? Do you agree? Do we control our own destinies, or is life mapped out for us?
What do you think of the characters' decisions? What would you give up, if necessary, for love?
- In theaters: March 4, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: June 21, 2011
- Cast: Anthony Mackie, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Matt Damon
- Director: George Nolfi
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image
For kids who love thrills and romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.