The Laws of Thermodynamics

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
The Laws of Thermodynamics Movie Poster Image
So-so subtitled romcom has sex, nudity, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Don't let fear hold you back from loving or from giving relationships a chance. You can't hide from emotions forever. You can't apply scientific principles to romantic relationships; real life just doesn't work that way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Manel is likable, if unable to engage deeply with world around him or people in it. A successful astrophysicist, his career is jeopardized when his relationship with Elena starts to fall apart. While depressed, he starts drinking too much. Ultimately, there's hope that he's learning to cope with risk of heartbreak. Elena is a good model of an intelligent, thoughtful woman pursuing her dreams, staying down to earth as she becomes famous, successful. She's also a good model for standing up for herself, not allowing herself to be anyone's doormat. The Spanish cast, including extras, and "talking head" experts who explain scientific principles offer lots of positive representations of varied ethnicities and races.

Violence

A building explodes in a fantasy sequence.

Sex

Several simulated, nude sex scenes show female breasts, male buttocks and thrusting, grunting, moaning. A woman's bare buttocks are seen through lingerie during a striptease. A couple of mentions of threesomes; one scene shows three adults kissing and caressing. Lots of kissing with tongue. Heavy breathing and implied nudity in bed with no sensitive parts showing implies a couple just had sex. Lots of brief shots of animals mating, including an elephant's penis.

Language

Translated from Spanish:  "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "bitch," and "ass." Mention of "humping." "Mulatto" used once in a positive way to describe a beautiful woman.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Elena, otherwise a very positive role model, smokes. Adults drink wine, beer, cocktails on social occasions and with meals. No excess until Manel goes into a depressive downward spiral and, played for comedy, is shown drinking alone and guzzling almost an entire bottle of beer. No direct consequences shown but his work starts to suffer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Laws of Thermodynamics is a romantic comedy in Spanish with subtitles. Several sex scenes show female breasts, male buttocks, and simulated sex with thrusting, panting, and moaning. Having a threesome is mentioned a couple of times, and one sequence briefly shows some kissing and sensuality between three people. Lots of brief shots show animals mating, including an elephant's penis. Strong language translated from Spanish includes "f--k," "s--t," and "ass." "Mulatto" is used once in a positive description of a beautiful woman. Elena, otherwise a very positive role model, smokes. Adults drink socially and responsibly until Manel becomes depressed and starts drinking. His excessive drinking is played for comedy; the only consequence isn't direct and has to do with his work suffering. The film has lots of positive representations in the cast, extras, and scientific community of diverse races and ethnicities.

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What's the story?

THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS tells the story of Manel (Vito Sanz), an astrophysicist who tries to cram his personal interactions and relationships into carefully boxed, fully understandable scientific principles. Although he doesn't see it in himself, fully engaging with the world around him as it really is would be way too scary -- until he meets and falls for the beautiful Elena (Berta Vazquez). Elena knows that people can't be defined or hemmed in by the laws of physics, or any other scientific principles. They're unpredictable, but most importantly they need to feel free to make their own choices about their lives. Can two such opposites be happy together?

Is it any good?

This movie has a lot going for it on paper: a meet-cute, an opposites-attract couple, a quirky gimmick that applies laws of physics to human relationships, and an attractive, talented cast. Unfortunately, the gimmick in The Laws of Thermodynamics of cutting back and forth between "talking head" experts who explain the science and the story of Manel and Elena's romance pretty quickly bogs down and starts to feel overused. Add to that a script that plays mostly as mildly funny and offers few real laughs, and the movie stays pretty firmly in "OK, not great" territory.

Teen interest is most likely in the sex and nudity. Those and the profanity make it best for oldest teens mature enough to handle the adult situations and sexuality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sex in The Laws of Thermodynamics. Is it gratuitous? Why include it? How much is OK in movies, books, games, etc.?

  • What about all the profanity? Is it realistic? How much is OK for kids and teens to hear in movies?

  • Did you learn anything about thermodynamics, or physics in general? Why do you think the movie goes back and forth between the science experts and the story?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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