A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Living a full life includes using compassion and empathy in various life situations.
Positive Role Models
Fikry starts out as a curmudgeon, but it's only his grief that makes him gruff; as he warms up after taking in an abandoned child, his true heart, compassion, and empathy come through.
South Asian actor Kunal Nayyar stars as Fikry, the adoptive father of a biracial Black daughter. It's rare to see a movie in which a person of color raises a child of color who isn't of the same race or background. But aside from Fikry, his daughter, Maya, and Maya's tragic mother, Marian (Lizzy Brooks), the film is mostly White, making it feel like Fikry and Maya are on an island apart from other people of color and their experiences. Even worse is what happens to Marian and the reason why she's not in Maya's life. It's clear that racism wasn't intended, but some viewers might feel like Marian's race plays into why she's such a tragic character.
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Violence & Scariness
A character throws food, and a character dies by suicide. Another character dies in a car accident. Characters deal with grief.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two characters talk in bed after having off-screen sex; kissing. Discussions about adultery.
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"Hell," "s--t," "f--k." Middle-finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Local Massachusetts locations are shown, such as the British Beer Company. A Toyota Prius is shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character binge-drinks early in the film, which leads to a major plot point. Characters share a pitcher of beer at a restaurant.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a romantic drama based on Gabrielle Zevin's novel about a widowed bookstore owner (Kunal Nayyar) who becomes father to an abandoned child and eventually finds love. It has themes of empathy and compassion and offers a positive example of a diverse family created through adoption. Expect some strong language ("s--t", "f--k") and sexual content (kissing, implied sex), as well as scenes of violence, including a car crash and a character who dies by suicide. Characters drink, sometimes to excess, and deal with grief and loss. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This cozy drama is just right if you want to watch a movie about romance and life lessons while snuggled under a blanket on your couch, ideally with a cup of hot cocoa or tea.
Some viewers might find The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a bit too saccharine or melodramatic in the way that characters meet tragic ends. There are plot points that end without proper resolution, and the film does have a tendency to feel as if it's droning on. But overall, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a sweet, charming film that showcases Nayyar's ability to play a sentimental, quietly intense leading man. If there's one lesson Hollywood can take from this film, it's to put Nayyar, best known for The Big Bang Theory, in more romantic leading roles, especially ones that don't involve him playing a stereotypical nerd.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.