A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Passion can be a strong driving force for good, but can also be all-consuming and make you blinkered to other viewpoints. It's important to stand up for what you believe, even if it makes you unpopular. Love can be thrilling and soothing, but also addictive and destructive.
Positive Role Models
Katie is passionate and shows courage, perseverance, and integrity in standing up for what she believes in and not being cowed by bullies. However, she is also stubborn in her views and belittles others who don't share them or she believes them to be intellectually inferior. She admires Hubbell's literary talent and he yearns for her validation. Hubbell is more thoughtful and intelligent than he initially comes across. He has a moral core, but is easily led by success, popularity, and pleasure.
One of the two lead characters is a Jewish woman, and her Judaism is referenced directly on a number of occasions (by her), which is rare in a Hollywood romance. She is told by her partner to "behave herself" in a social setting where she is expressing strong political views, but refuses. Male characters talk about lead female character's looks and compare her as an adult to her collage days, placing importance on female beauty. Characters refer to "cowboys and Indians" films and discuss whether making "the Indians" the good guys would be "un-American." A couple remarry and the wife brings up their child with a new father -- the arrangement is shown to be amicable and the new husband described as a good father, which shows a healthy picture of step-families.
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Violence & Scariness
References to the war, including bombs, machine guns, and the slaughter of women and children. A character hits a wall and later pushes objects off a table in frustration. A character is punched, resulting in blood from the nose.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting, dancing, kissing. Partial nudity -- man seen shirtless and woman topless from behind. Both are presumed naked beneath sheets in bed, and kiss on the lips and neck. There is the implication sex has taken place when a scene fades out while kissing. A husband cheats on his wife.
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Language includes "bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "ass," "hell," and "fink." "Jesus," "Christ," and "for God's sake" are used in exclamation. A woman is referred to as a "broad." Black people referred to as "negroes." "Dyke" is used in a disparaging way.
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Products & Purchases
Dubonnet brand of alcohol ordered at bar. 7 Up advertised in shop. Coke ordered in diner.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters frequently smoke cigarettes (and occasionally cigars), and drink wine, champagne, beer, and spirits. Teens drink from a hip flask and a bottle of gin at a dance. A drunk character is sick (off-screen). Character takes sleeping pills.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Way We Were is a 1973 romantic drama, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, with some racist, sexist, and homophobic terms. It is set between the 1930s and 1950s, and frequently mentions politics, World War II, and later the blacklists of the McCarthy era. Streisand plays Katie Morosky, a politically active Jewish woman who forms an on-off relationship with her polar opposite, the laidback "WASP" Hubbell Gardiner, played by Redford. There is partial nudity and sex is implied, though not shown on-screen. Characters are complex, but Katie in particular shows courage, perseverance, and integrity in the way she stands up for what she believes is important. Language includes "bitch" and "ass," as well as offensive terms such as "negro," "broad," and "dyke." Characters often smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, to the point of intoxication and sickness on occasion. The pace is slow and the acting melodramatic in places, so younger viewers may be put off. But fans of either lead or romance in general will likely appreciate the on-screen chemistry and sheer star power. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Scored by Streisand's famous song of the same name, and often swaying into soft-focus and fade-outs, this is a romance for those who aren't easily put off by sentimentality and melodrama. What maintains The Way We Were through its potential cringes is the realism of the romantic arc and the believable chemistry between the two leads -- equal passion and frustration, at times a perfect romance and others a doomed affair. As Katie, Streisand's political passion borders on exhausting next to Hubbell's (Redford) laid-back aloofness. Yet it's her energy in the most part that keeps the plot moving through its nearly two-hour runtime. As viewers we start to feel the same mix of awe and exasperation toward Katie that Hubbell seems to. She's a force to be reckoned with, a woman that won't "behave," but it comes at a price for the relationships around her. Her moments of emotional vulnerability (of which there are many), can feel jarring alongside this powerhouse -- there's little in between -- and while politics is regularly discussed, it seems of comparatively little significance in the background of the plot. The film is schmaltzy in places for sure, and that's what is often remembered. But despite some cliches it's refreshing in its overall attempt not to romanticize romance. It lays it bare as a living, breathing creature of its own that can as easily engulf you in warmth as spit you out broken.
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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.