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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although she clearly loves her daughter, an irresponsible mother continually uproots the girl in her quest to find a man, run away from her problems or both. The girl is so accustomed to her mom's dysfunctional, sometimes violent, relationships that she has learned to establish an "escape route" in her new bedroom each time they move.
Violence & Scariness
The movie opens with a violent argument between a husband and wife. They yell, curse, and throw dishes at each other. The woman challenges the man to punch her; he threatens her with his fist, but hits the refrigerator instead. While having dinner at a restaurant, a man gets angry at his girlfriend's daughter, threatening to hit her with a book.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and woman meet at a bar and then wake up together the next morning in a motel; it's understood that they have had sex. Later, they are shown kissing passionately on the bed when the woman's daughter comes home early from school. A preteen boy and girl are shown kissing. In another scene, the girl begins menstruating; she and her mother talk about visits from her "Aunt Rosie" and goof around with sanitary napkins. Two women make gestures similar to a man masturbating and describe their boss "choking his chicken." A woman is shown in her bra. A woman teaches her preteen daughter how to kiss by practicing on an apple; she asks her daughter if she is French-kissing yet. The scene is played for laughs and illustrates a lighthearted moment between the two.
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Characters, including a preteen girl, use profanity such as "goddamn," "bulls--t," "asshole," "f--king," and "tits." A character shoots "the finger" at someone.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are shown drinking alcohol. Two women drink shots at a bar. A guilt-ridden man explains that his wife died in a car accident; he was the driver, and he had drunk too much alcohol at a party. A young girl uses an inhaler for her asthma; her friend tries out the inhaler on one occasion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although the mother portrayed in Tumbleweeds can be irresponsible, viewers never doubt that she loves her daughter and wants her to be happy. Still, because of her poor decisions and erratic lifestyle, Mary Jo does cause instability and emotional trauma in her daughter's life. There also are some scenes with mild violence and sexuality, such as when a couple has a heated, potentially physical argument and when a preteen girl comes home from school to find her mother making out with a strange man. Some strong language, including "f--k" and "goddamn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
McTeer instills Mary Jo Walker with an earthy, Southern-fried sexiness. She's obviously had a hardscrabble life, but it hasn't robbed her of optimism or whimsy. As Ava, Brown deftly handles her role as a typical preadolescent who loves being silly but who must also serve as the voice of reason for her charmingly irresponsible mother. Their moments together seem genuine and are the highlights of the film, whether they're rehearsing lines from Ava's school play or singing the fitting song "Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" as they drive toward a new life.
Their relationship is the heart of the movie, although the supporting cast is great, including Jay O. Sanders as Dan, a sweet and sensitive co-worker who is haunted by his past; Laurel Holloman as Laurie, Mary Jo's friend and hangout buddy; and O'Connor, who brings some depth (insecurity, self-consciousness) to his portrayal of the macho, controlling Dan. Families will enjoy watching Mary Jo "grow up" as Ava finally gets a chance to be a real kid.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.