A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tiger Eyes is an adaptation of Judy Blume's classic 1981 coming-of-age novel (and was directed by her son). Updated to the current time but otherwise faithful to the story, the movie chronicles the life of a teenager whose father was murdered at his shop. There's some violence, including a brief scene that briefly shows the father bleeding on the floor of his shop, and another scene in which an uncle slaps his niece on the face. A teenager (not the main character) drinks a lot and throws up a couple of times, and there are a few kisses, including one make-out session in the back of a car. A grieving widow takes a lot of pills to calm herself and sleep, and another father dies of cancer off screen. The movie encourages family support and unconditional friendship to get over even the saddest tragedies.
What's the story?
Like Judy Blume's beloved 1981 book, TIGER EYES the movie centers around Davey Wexler (Willa Holland), an Atlantic City teenager whose father is violently killed. Davey moves with her grieving mother (Amy Jo Johnson) and little brother to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where her aunt and uncle live. Things in Los Alamos (where everyone is connected to the National Laboratory) are a huge change of pace for Davey, who finds solace in hiking the area's many trails. One day as she's stumbling around some rocks, she meets a handsome Native American guy who tells her his name is Wolf (Tatanka Means). He offers to show her around ancestral caves if she gets proper hiking boots, so she does, eager to get to know him better. As a volunteer candy striper, Davey also meets a hospitalized Native American man who turns out to be Wolf's father, and, with their help and support, she learns to confront her grief.
Is it any good?
This movie is quiet and tender and well acted, and it makes you thankful for family and the joy of finding yourself in new places and people. With Judy Blume co-writing the Tiger Eyes screenplay with her son, director Lawrence Blume, it's no surprise that the film is incredibly faithful to the novel, except for the tiniest of details (and, of course, the decade). The upside is that fans of the book will see nearly every pivotal line and scene in the novel translated to the big screen. The way Davey and Wolf meet, the life-changing relationship Davey develops with Wolf's dying father, the problems between Davey and her exacting uncle, her friendship with high-strung Jane -- it's all in the film.
Holland, best known as the younger sister on the hit show Arrow, has a lovely presence and a subtle touch as Davey, who goes through an emotional journey of grief, anger, self discovery, and even romance. Tatanka captures Wolf's spirit, and their relationship is sweeter than it is steamy -- a refreshing change of pace from the instant love so popular in other teen-targeted movies. This is the kind of character-driven coming-of age tale that would have worked as easily on television as in the movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how faithful an adaptation Tiger Eyes is and whether you think it translates well to the screen. If you aren't familiar with the book, does the movie make you want to read it?
Parents may want to use Jane's vodka habit to discuss the dangers of underage drinking. How does Jane's alcohol consumption affect her dating and then her audition? Teens: What would happen if you or a friend showed up at school drunk?
The movie shows an intercultural relationship between Davey and Wolf. What, if anything, does Davey learn about Wolf's Native American heritage?
- In theaters: June 7, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 7, 2014
- Cast: Amy Jo Johnson, Tatanka Means, Willa Holland
- Director: Lawrence Blume
- Studio: Freestyle Releasing
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, High School
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material including a violent incident, and some teen drinking
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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