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 Book of Love centers on the unlikely friendship between a man (Jason Sudeikis) who's just lost his wife in a tragic car accident and a homeless teen (Maisie Williams). They gain comfort from helping each other in this slow-paced drama, which has a fair amount of swearing (mostly "s--t," "ass," and "bitch"), as well as a long sequence that involves a lot of weed and a big pot of stew that leaves Henry outrageously stoned. Expect a few violent scenes involving Millie and the unpleasant drunk who's supposed to be her guardian, plus a few arguments and moments when characters hit each other. Characters kiss.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE BOOK OF LOVE, Henry (Jason Sudeikis) is lost after his wife (Jessica Biel) dies in a tragic car accident -- until he remembers that one of the last things she told him was that he should try to help the homeless teen girl they'd seen in the neighborhood. That gives him a mission, and he finally tracks down Millie (Maisie Williams), an orphan who dreams about building a homemade raft to sail across the Atlantic. She wants to follow the path of her late father, who was lost at sea. When Henry accidentally sets fire to the shed where Millie has been working, he lets her move into his spare room and agrees to help her build the vessel.
Is it any good?
This slow-paced drama is about two people who are both adrift -- unfortunately, so is the film. The basic idea in The Book of Love is something we've seen many times before: A man lost to grief finds himself by helping someone who's also in need of aid. But the execution here is hackneyed and trite. Midway through the film, we can tell Henry is hurting when he starts sporting beard of a man who's let himself go. We know his wife is the one who brought a spark of joy into his life because she made him wear purple sneakers. But she's not really a fully realized character, just a plot device. And the less said about Williams' Southern accent the better, though you'll hear it a lot during her many, many cliche-filled voiceovers.
The story isn't particularly realistic or believable -- would a teenage orphan really be abandoned to live with a random, drunken friend of her dad? -- and, more importantly, it's not interesting. The big reveal at the end feels insignificant, and the uplifting ending is anti-climactic. Sudeikis especially has trouble making us care about his plight, and we never feel all that invested in any of the characters. There are far better books out there than this one.
Talk to your kids about ...
How did Millie fall through the cracks and end up on the streets? Why is she planning to sail away? Do you think her plan is believable?
Do you think it's realistic that Henry and Millie become friends? How is their friendship similar to (and different from) other "May-December" relationships you've seen in movies/on TV?
- In theaters: January 13, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2017
- Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser, Jessica Biel
- Director: Bill Purple
- Studio: Electric Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic content, language and drug material
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