A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Families may argue and hurt each other, but they come together in the end. Addresses difficult discussion of what to do with aging parents who can't take care of themselves anymore. Doesn't offer easy answers, but represents many sides of argument.
Positive Role Models
These are all realistic, well-intentioned, but flawed people; they have troubles and worries and make mistakes, but they're basically loving and caring, looking out for one another.
Violence & Scariness
Mention of women being sexually assaulted. Arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married woman flirts with another man. She tries to seduce him but is interrupted. An adult man says his Alzheimer's-suffering mother "hit on me."
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Strong language includes uses of "f--k," "bulls--t," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "goddamn," "d--k," "hell," "oh my God," "damn," "for Christ's sake." Middle-finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some social/casual drinking: cocktails and whiskey. One character owns a bar. Occasional cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What They Had is a poignant drama about a family that's dealing with the very difficult issue of Alzheimer's; it's more focused on characters and life than it is on sickness and misery. It's a beautifully acted, big-hearted, messy hug of a movie for mature viewers. Language is quite strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more -- sometimes shouted in anger during arguments. A married woman tries to seduce another man but is interrupted. There's some sex-related talk and a mention of possible sexual assault. Characters often drink socially/casually (one of them owns a bar), and some cigarette smoking is seen. Blythe Danner, Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, and Robert Forster co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This big-hearted drama, a feature writing and directing debut by Elizabeth Chomko, is impeccably acted, with vivid, intricate relationships played out on a deceptively feisty, unruly canvas. In What They Had, Chomko, who was previously an actress and playwright, brings together five of the very best actors around, who proceed to form a tangled, passionate family unit so strong that it feels like their lives together started before the movie began. Each character is viewed as if from the inside, with his or her own logical, reasonable hopes, wants, and desires.
As a result, they clash with each other in a totally organic way. Even Farmiga's bratty Emma seems dead-on. Nothing feels forced or driven by the plot; it's far from a soap opera. Perhaps better still, Chomko deals with the subject of Alzheimer's with a light touch. This isn't a disease-of-the-week movie that heavily, miserably focuses on the malady itself rather than on the characters; it's the exact opposite. This is about how characters are affected by what's going on, and every scene springs to life. While it's still not an easy subject to digest, What They Had is ultimately a great big messy hug of a movie.
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.