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This Changes Everything (2018)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
This Changes Everything (2018) Movie Poster Image
Compelling, entertaining docu about women in film and TV.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 95 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In examining role of women in media, provides both information and inspiration. Importance of action to address wrongdoing is emphasized. Brings to light important facts and figures about gender inequity in filmed media (both in front of and behind the camera) and further shows effects of that inequity on the hearts and minds of viewers, especially kids. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Film's subjects (actors, filmmakers, academics, journalists) exhibit courage, intelligence, determination, strong advocacy skills, uncompetitive teamwork. They are exemplary researchers, spokespersons, and activists for a cause. The males interviewed are empathetic, concerned, inspired to take action. Ethnic diversity throughout.

Violence

Film clips show some violence: gunfire, fighting, explosions, men and women in peril.

Sex

Film clips show women in sexy poses, revealing clothing, not being taken seriously, as sexual objects. 

Language

A few instances of profanity: "t-ts and ass," "s--t," "f--k," "d--k," "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Film clips show some social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This Changes Everything (2018) is a well-researched, effective documentary about evolving women's roles in movies and television, both in front of and behind the camera. Geena Davis, the driving force behind the film, acts as the audience's guide through a history of women in film, as well as a presentation of the current status of women in the industry. Viewers can expect a number of short clips from movies over several decades that show violence (gunfire, explosions, brutal fighting) as well as sexual objectification (revealing clothing and demeaning of women and girls). There are a few instances of profanity, spoken by passionate interviewees (i.e., "ass," "f--k," "bitch," "s--t," "t-ts," and "d--k"). Messages about the negative effects of gender inequality on female viewers, especially kids and teens, are frequent and illuminating. 

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What's the story?

In THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING, director Tom Donahue has assembled an enviable list of actors, filmmakers, academics, and journalists to enlighten audiences about gender inequity in movies and televisions. Donahue and his team (which includes Geena Davis) use popular and classic film clips, as well as interviews, to give evidence to their conclusions. Bolstered by facts and figures that took extraordinary commitment to collect, the movie makes its case, reviews the data, and sets out to prove that women in film have had a tough go, just as they have in many other industries and institutions.

Is it any good?

As affecting as it is informative, this documentary features an impressive company of female actors and directors who light up the screen with their stories and insights addressing gender discrimination. It isn't all new information, it's simply well documented with damning facts and stats (only 4.1% of top-grossing films from 2002 to 2014 were directed by women!) beautifully delivered by folks who have been and still are feeling the effects of a systemic imbalance in the entertainment industry. Of particular note are the stories of the earliest female directors trying to change the status quo: Maria Griese, whose diligence turned her into a change-maker; efforts by the Directors Guild of America and the American Civil Liberties Union to promote change; and John Landgraf, a network boss who was inspired by a journalist and refused to accept the existing situation.

This Changes Everything (an ironic title given how often certain movies over the years that were heralded as game changers fell flat) has an important point to make: "Hollywood is our storytelling machine; it creates our cultural narrative and informs as the voice of our civilization." One hopes that those who can make a difference hear that message.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the intent of documentaries: to entertain, inform, inspire, and persuade. Which of these categories best describes This Changes Everything? Why?

  • How clearly did the filmmakers justify their theory and ideas about the role of women in film and television? Which methods (interviews, film clips, historical information, statistics) did you find most effective in presenting the case?

  • An interviewee states that "Misogyny is an invisible sport." What does she mean? What examples have you seen or experienced that might back up that notion?

  • Were you surprised by the data that was revealed in the movie? Why or why not?

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