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 Meddler, though often funny, deals with serious matters -- including grief, the loss of a loved one, career dissatisfaction, and the like. There's some swearing, including a use of "f--k," as well as a scene in which a character panics and ingests someone else's bag of pot so that police won't find it. Other scenes have social drinking, allusions to sex (including a post-casual sex pregnancy scare), a very brief mention of abortion, and some pretty frank moments of self-reflection.
What's the story?
In THE MEDDLER, Marnie (Susan Sarandon) is a recent transplant from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where her adult daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne), lives and works as a screenwriter. Marnie loves her new condo and is tethered to her iPhone, which she uses often to check in on Lori, whether her daughter needs it or not. Marnie's husband died two years ago, and -- instead of dealing with getting a headstone and figuring out what to do with his ashes -- she'd rather take care of everyone else, including Lori, her friends, and a young man from the Apple store Marnie recently persuaded to go back to school. But when she meets Zipper (J.K. Simmons), a divorced ex-cop who's kind and caring and wants to get to know her, Marnie starts to unravel, just as Lori pleads for clearer boundaries between them.
Is it any good?
For the first time in years, Sarandon has a truly textured, meaty role into which she can pour her considerable gifts. Marnie is ostensibly a meddling mom, but Sarandon makes her so much more -- a feat that the actress takes great care with, doling out one layer at a time to an audience enraptured by such a funny, complicated character. Kudos also to Byrne, who definitely inhabits the role of a daughter both overwhelmed and grateful for her mother's overly caring ways. And Simmons rises to the occasion as Zipper, who may just be the right man for someone as complex as Marnie. But it's THE MEDDLER writer/director Lorene Scafaria who deserves the biggest plaudits: how she turned a potentially stereotypical character into an interesting, maddening delight is a wonder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Meddler portrays grief. What is the movie saying about the long shadow cast by loss? Is Marnie really as OK as she seems?
The move plays Marnie's nosiness for laughs, as well as her over-involvement in her daughter's life. Does it ring true? How would you characterize their mother-daughter relationship? Can you think of other memorable movie moms?
How are drinking and drugs portrayed? Is anything glamorized?
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