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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this indie wedding drama focuses on mature themes like marriage, infidelity, relationships, and post-college malaise that aren't age-appropriate for younger teens. Although some of the stars (especially Anna Paquin and Katie Holmes) may appeal to younger audiences, the nuances of this drama (which ultimately isn't very pro-marriage) are best for those who are in or out of college. Expect several passionate kisses, plus one scene that shows the groom-to-be about to have sex with someone other than his fiancee and another scene in which a bridesmaid makes out with a groomsman who isn't her husband. Language includes "s--t" and "bitch," and there's both excessive drinking (some characters get ridiculously drunk) and some drug use (cocaine).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Based on director Galt Niederhoffer's own novel, THE ROMANTICS follows a group of seven Ivy League-college friends who gather six years after graduating at a posh Maine beach estate for the wedding of Lila (Anna Paquin) and Tom (Josh Duhamel). Maid of honor Laura (Katie Holmes), who was Lila's college roommate (and, more importantly, Tom's college girlfriend and sometime lover), really doesn't want to be there -- a fact made perfectly clear when she accidentally says "Tom and Laura" during her rehearsal-dinner toast. The trio's best undergraduate friends include two couples: the married Tripler (Malin Akerman) and Pete (Jeremy Strong) and the engaged Jake (Adam Brody) and Weesie (Rebecca Lawrence), all of whom made up a clique they dubbed "The Romantics" in college. As the wedding festivities proceed, it becomes clear that the friends' relationships are still very much in flux.
Is it any good?
It's fitting that a movie about relationship conflict would lead to conflicting feelings for an audience. Part of the movie is an insightful, even touching look at slightly rootless twenty-somethings for whom undergraduate school was a magical time of friendship and intellectual curiosity. But it's also -- and this is that makes The Romantics difficult to watch -- self indulgent and in some ways unbelievable. Six years after college graduation, a group of friends should have evolved at least somewhat past whatever their undergraduate lives were like, without talking about petty grievances from junior and senior year as if they were all that important to their 28-year-old selves. Who cares if Lila -- the much richer, WASPy roommate -- bought the red dress that Laura wanted to wear to some literary magazine event? Is that really on the same level as the fact that Laura and Tom might still be in love, even though it's the day of Lila and Tom's wedding?
The actors all do their best, but Holmes is so broody that she seems like a slightly older Joey from Dawson's Creek. Duhamel is a casting misstep, because although he's perfect as an athletic Alpha Male, Tom is also supposed to be a true scholar-athlete, and Duhamel isn't Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio -- he can't pull off intellectual types very convincingly. Paquin is cloying as the golden princess who usually gets everything she wants, and Candice Bergen, playing Lila's well-heeled mother Augusta, seems to be rivaling Holland Taylor as the "rich patrician mother" in everything. Most disappointing are the quartet of "other best friends," who apparently had no problem reverting to their college-level casualness for hooking up or otherwise being inappropriate with each other, despite being married or engaged. The sole wise ones in the bunch are Lila's drunk brother, Chip (Elijah Wood), who slurs the truth, and younger sister Minnow (Glee's Dianna Agron), who wonders whether Tom really is the right choice for her sister.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about marriage and friendship. Do you think its take on grown-up relationships is realistic?
What are the consequences of the characters' iffy behavior? Do you think the same consequences would happen in real life?
Why do the friends keep bringing up their college antics? What does this imply about their lives after graduating?
- In theaters: September 10, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: February 8, 2011
- Cast: Adam Brody, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes
- Director: Galt Niederhoffer
- Studio: Paramount Famous
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, partial nudity, language, and some drug material
For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.