A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film tackles sophisticated issues of morality and philosophy. There are a few negative comments about organized religion that may be offensive to some. The main character remembers catching her husband cheating on her, glimpses a couple having sex at a wedding, and gets drunk.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this roller coaster ride into the abstract, photographer Amanda (Marlee Matlin) is dealing with her husband's infidelity. Her story (as she endures her wackily cheerful roommate, takes pictures at a cheesy wedding, and conquers her own self-hatred) is intercut with interviews and speeches by experts in fields from quantum mechanics to medicine to psychology to New Age philosophy. All of it eventually supports the film's central thesis: that our consciousness and our choices influence everything from our bodies to our feelings to the material world -- that we, in fact, choose our own realities.
Is it any good?
This movie is a shifting, surreal jumble of images, opinions, speculations, facts, assertions, and beliefs. Questions are tossed at the viewer like popcorn jumping out of a pan: Who are we? What is real? The film can be rambling and at times a bit repetitive. It's not a documentary and doesn't try to be. As a bold statement of a new philosophy, it certainly has enough substance to catch your attention and make you think. Strange, intriguing, occasionally irritating, occasionally tedious, and occasionally astonishing.
This movie is not for everybody and certainly not for kids. Some teens will be bored by the slow pace and the philosophical musings. Some parents may feel that the sexual content (including a scene where Amanda remembers seeing her husband in bed with another woman) make this inappropriate for kids. Families with a conservative religious background might be bothered by the dismissal of institutional religion that some of the experts express. On the other hand, mature and thoughtful teens may be swept away by the film's exploration of heady and mystifying questions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie is deliberately provocative and raises questions about reality, the power of perception and thought, and the nature of God. You may not agree with all, or many, of its points, but it will certainly get you and your teens taking and thinking. For example: What are thoughts made of? Is there a difference between reality and perception, the external and the internal? Families might want to talk about their own beliefs, moral codes, and how they make choices regarding ethical behavior. How do they compare to those portrayed in the movie?
- In theaters: April 23, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: March 25, 2005
- Cast: Barry Newman, Elaine Hendrix, Marlee Matlin
- Directors: Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente, William Arntz
- Studio: American Family Movies
- Genre: Documentary
- Run time: 65 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: brief nudity, adult themes
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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