A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Age of Adaline is a romantic fantasy about a beautiful woman who has essentially been 29 for nearly 80 years. Starring former Gossip Girl headliner Blake Lively, the movie should appeal to teens who enjoy love stories. There are some passionate kisses and a couple of love scenes (which don't show much more than the woman's bare shoulders and the man's bare chest), as well as some language (infrequent use of "s--t"), drinking, and violence (the main character nearly dies two different times, including in a fateful car crash, and there are some actual deaths).
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What's the story?
THE AGE OF ADALINE is about the unconventional life of a beautiful woman named Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively). As a 29-year-old widowed mother in 1937, Adaline is in a freak car accident that leaves her unable to age (it's not magic, though; the narrator explains some complicated "scientific" reasons for her ageless body). Forever 29, Adaline changes her name, appearance, and residence every decade, even if that means leaving behind someone she loves. Adaline, who many years later goes by Jenny, is about to move again when she meets Ellis (Michael Huisman), a wealthy philanthropist who charms her into sticking around in San Francisco. But when Ellis introduces Jenny to his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker), she realizes his dad is one of her former loves.
Is it any good?
Lively is a radiant actress, and she's so lovely in her period gowns that it's easy to forgive some of the movie's many shortcomings because of her on-screen presence. Despite her charm and the movie's interesting premise of a woman who doesn't age, the execution is far from magical. First, there's a terribly heavy-handed narrator who tries to make the movie's magical realism elements sound scientific, when they would have been better left unexplained. Plus, there just isn't much of anything happening for most of the movie -- until 70 minutes in, when Jenny finally meets Ellis' parents and discovers his father is a former lover she abandoned. At least the inimitable Ellen Burstyn is on hand to play Adaline's elderly daughter, Flemming, adding much-needed humor to the far-too-serious proceedings.
Besides Flemming, Ford's William is one of the only interesting characters in the story. His relationship with Jenny/Adaline in the present and the past (in the earlier scenes, the character is played by Anthony Ingruber, who even sounds like Ford) is more compelling than the supposedly epic romance between Jenny and Ellis. And that's the main problem with the movie. Ellis and Jenny don't have the kind of swoon-worthy chemistry that the concept requires to make the love story work. And while the costume designer deserves kudos for Adaline's frequent decade-appropriate outfit changes, the script and plot are underwhelming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of movies about eternal youth. Do you think The Age of Adaline would have been different had Adaline been less attractive? What do her looks have to do with the story?
Discuss the idea of the motto "years, lovers, glasses of wines -- these are things that shouldn't be counted." How do you feel about that adage?
How does the movie compare to other time-bending movies? Which ones are your favorites?
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