A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tumbledown is a romantic dramedy that mixes light, playful moments with those that are gloomier and more mournful. Grief over the death of a loved one figures prominently in the plot, and there's plenty of mature content -- including one bawdy scene that shows a couple in a sex position while a phone rings. You can also expect plenty of swearing (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), some social drinking, marijuana use, and yelling, threats, and trash talk.
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What's the story?
Hannah (Rebecca Hall) writes for the local paper in her small New England town. But her biggest job, it seems, is being the keeper of the flame for her late husband, a gifted composer whose life was cut short just at the moment when his genius was starting to be recognized. Enter Andrew McDonnell (Jason Sudeikis), a college professor writing a book that includes information on Hannah's husband. He's seeking to prove himself as an academic, but Hannah isn't sold on his vision. Instead, she hires him to help her write a biography of her husband -- but doing so might require confronting some hard truths for both her and Andrew.
Is it any good?
There are many reasons to dismiss TUMBLEDOWN -- and an equal number of reasons to love it; and both feelings will wax and wane throughout the film. For starters, though both leads -- especially Sudeikis, whom we haven't seen in such a meaty role very often -- bring their best efforts to the movie, they just don't have that much spark. And this story relies on that magic heavily, given that the script is sometimes maudlin and hard to believe. (Why someone as smart, independent, and lovely as Hannah would fall for the abrasive and sometimes-condescending Andrew is beyond us.)
Second, the music: Hannah's ex is the third lead here, and his palpable absence relies on his voice and music captured on recordings. He's hailed as the next Bob Dylan, cut down before his prime, but the little bits of his legacy we hear aren't quite the stuff about which academics like Andrew dream of writing tenure-sealing books. And another small quibble: Why cast Blythe Danner as Hannah's mother when she's only given one really good scene? What saves Tumbledown from being a non-starter is Hall, who's a proven multi-layered thespian, and a very distinct sense of place. It's very easy to imagine a mournful musician finding solace in this small Maine town and being inspired by it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Tumbledown portrays the grieving process. Does it seem realistic? How does it differ from other depictions of grief in the media?
Do you find the romance at the heart of this film believable? Healthy? What role does sex play in the movie?
What makes something a "dramedy" rather than a drama or comedy? Have you seen other movies that fit this description? What do they have in common?
For kids who love romance
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