The Incredible Jessica James

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Incredible Jessica James Movie Poster Image
Crisp, star-driven romcom has sexual content, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 85 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Promotes thinking big, pride in oneself, being open to new experiences, and moving forward after heartbreak. Jessica's mantra: "Hey, everybody, guess what? This is your one and only life. What do you want to tell people about it?" 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroine is audacious, confident, imaginative, a terrific teacher and role model for the kids she teaches. She shows remarkable determination, refusing to give up when faced with obstacles in her path. Her vulnerability is sometimes disguised by an in-your-face attitude. Also, a bit of a snob, condescending to her family. Portrays a stereotypical Midwestern family. Ethnically diverse. 

Violence

Two imaginary (comic) accidental deaths: a fall, a man is crushed.

Sex

Couples in bed together: foreplay, making love (no nudity, no intense sexual activity), cuddling after sex. Lots of conversations about sex. References to masturbation, oral sex, vibrators, anal sex.

Language

Swearing and profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "balls," "a--hole." Sexual conversations: "want to bone?" "smell your panties," "booty call."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine, champagne in social situations.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Incredible Jessica James is a grown-up romantic comedy with lots of sexual situations, racy language, and mature themes. The movie is a star-making turn for Jessica Williams, one of the premier "correspondents" on The Daily Show when Jon Stewart was at the helm. With a recognizable story given a fresh lift from Williams, viewers can expect to hear lots of sexual references and jokes. There's no actual nudity, only suggested, and no dramatically intense sexual encounters. Words like "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole" and phrases like "want to bone?" and "booty call" are sprinkled in, along with references to oral sex, masturbation, menstruation, and sex toys. Characters drink adult beverages in some social scenes, no drunkenness.  A funny debut leading role for this strong female actor-comedian should appeal to adults and mature teens. 

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What's the story?

Breakups are always hard, and the heroine in THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES is struggling. A determined and hard-working playwright who gets rejection notices from theater companies as well as from her ex, Jessica (Jessica Williams) covers her fragility with a quick wit, in-your-face honesty, and an (almost) invincible spirit. Her best post-split moments come from teaching. Jessica's good at it, and the city kids in her theater class are lucky to have her. Being fixed up with Boone (Chris O'Dowd), a newly divorced computer guy who's got his own issues with being single, is a mixed blessing. He's sexy, funny, and just about as frank as she is, but they're both still recovering. Any steps forward in their relationship seem to come with two steps back. Jessica's fantasizing about her old boyfriend doesn't help matters. So it requires some tricky maneuvering, along with a little luck, for Jessica to get to a place where she just might be open to the next good thing.

Is it any good?

The spirited, wholly original Jessica Williams turns a familiar setup and story into a special event with her agility, intelligence, and ability to play a vanity-free role with gusto. Luckily, Chris O'Dowd has just what it takes to charm her, and the audience, and their chemistry is terrific. Williams struts and storms, laughs and dances The Incredible Jessica James right into your heart. And, the beauty of Williams dancing is that she's not great at it, but, wow, is she willing. It's not a perfect film. One could find fault with the lapses into comic stereotype, particularly in the scenes with the leading lady headed back to her hometown, but why bother? It doesn't really distract from the whole. With wonderful performances, great comic timing, and even a generous helping of heartstring tugs, the movie should appeal to a wide audience. Mature, with lots of sexual situations and references.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie term "star turn." What does it mean? The Incredible Jessica James was written for Jessica Williams. What about the actress makes her special? Do you think the movie will affect her career? How?

  • Jessica James is a unique school teacher. What are some of the qualities and behaviors that make her so effective? How can those qualities and behaviors transfer to personal social interaction as well?

  • Talk about the contrasts that may exist between sexual scenes in comedies and in dramas. Is there a difference in the mood the director intends to create? How does that mood affect the response the director is hoping for?

Movie details

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