"Kinky" and "family comedy" are words that you might not expect to see together, but director Jon Sherman's film is oddly charming and somehow works -- at least for adults. Thinking about parents having sex is something that many teens would prefer never to do; the idea of parents engaging in rough sex with whips and ball gags is all the more alarming. Of course, it's also what makes They/Them/Us funny, particularly because Slotnick and Hargreaves present as run-of-the-mill middle-aged parents. In fact, all of the actors are pitch perfect for their roles. Jack Steiner and Lexie Bean (who play teens Danny and Maddie) are fantastic discoveries; they're both so vulnerable and yet funny in their roles as, respectively, a kid dealing with a drug problem and one with a newly declared gender identity.
Just like life, the movie's plot points and character beats are overwhelmingly full, and it's a feat that it all actually functions together. There's Charlie as a fish out of water in the BDSM scene, his new relationship with Lisa, Danny's drug dependency, Maddie's struggles after coming out as non-binary, Charlie's new job working as a film professor at an evangelical college, and the complications from Charlie's divorce. The film's overarching theme is one of acceptance: Charlie accepts Lisa for her sexual desires, and they work to educate those around them about the best way to support Maddie. While there's less time for the other two teens, Sherman gives all of the younger characters a strong voice: They're heard, and what they say may help adult viewers understand how significantly divorce and dating can affect their children, even those who are almost adults. All of this said, as smoothly as the movie's first half goes, the second act really drags. The heartfelt feelings and emotional hardship end up weighing the film down at that point; it wallows when it should be chugging along. All the bits set into motion have to be resolved authentically, and Sherman somewhat paints himself into a corner with everything he set up earlier. Still, adults open to a wild ride will likely enjoy and get something out of They/Them/Us, even if their teens want to stay away.