Tiger Eyes

 
(i)

 

Tender, well-acted teen drama is true to classic Blume book.
  • Review Date: June 6, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie illustrates how families can overcome even the most traumatic tragedies, like the loss of a parent. Davey's journey also shows how, with time and emotional support, a teenager can deal with depression and grief.

Positive role models

Bitsy tries her hardest to help her widowed sister and kids after Davey's father is killed. Despite her grief, Davey comforts her little brother and encourages Jane to get help for her drinking problem. Wolf is kind to Davey and shows her that she's not the only one dealing with sadness.

Violence

An older man slaps his teenage niece on the face, a girl nearly passes out from drinking too much, and a man's murder/death (and its impact on his family) is discussed and referenced several times; he's briefly shown bleeding. A father dies in the hospital (off camera) of cancer.

Sex

Davey has a romantic connection with a college-aged guy; after weeks of flirting and hiking, they embrace and kiss a few times. Jane asks Davey about how much "experience" she has with boys, and later Jane makes out in the backseat of a car with her crush.

Language

A couple of uses of "ass" (said in jest) and one angry utterance of "a--hole" (said to an adult). An older uncle insults his dead brother-in-law and grieving sister-in-law by calling them a "waste of a life" and "useless."

Consumerism

Brands featured in the movie include Blue Bunny ice cream, Keen sneakers, Volvo, Jeep, Mac, and the board game Monopoly. The charity Heifer International and the books Beloved by Toni Morrison and Stuart Little by E.B. White are also discussed.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Underage drinking in a few scenes: Davey's friend Jane drinks to excess (mostly vodka) at least three times and vomits twice -- once in public and once at school. A grieving widow takes a lot of pills to calm herself and sleep.

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.

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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?

QUALITY
 

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. It's quiet and tender and well acted, and it makes you thankful for family and the joy of finding yourself in new places and people.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 7, 2013
DVD release date: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

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