Parents' Guide to

What They Had

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Messy, loving family deals with Alzheimer's in mature drama.

Movie R 2018 101 minutes
What They Had Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 1 parent review

age 12+

Incredibly Touching Movie!

Touching, Heartfelt, Incredibly Acted!! This movie is educational in that it gives a real glimpse into what life is like for families dealing with dementia. The most amazing and most enjoyable part is without a doubt the beautiful love story. Young people will benefit from the example of loving commitment. As I was watching the movie, two of my sons in their twenties were unexpectedly drawn in and couldn’t stop watching it. The subject matter is intense and drinking and smoking are shown as well as swearing; therefore, it isn’t necessarily suited for young kids.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

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.

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