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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Youth in Oregon focuses on an elderly man (Frank Langella) with a failing heart who sets off on a cross-country drive to pursue assisted suicide. It's a complex topic that's handled well; the film carefully explores multiple sides of the question of free will and the impact that people have on those around them. Expect some drinking (sometimes to excess), some pill popping and smoking, and frequent swearing (including "s--t," "f--k," and more). Teen characters kiss, and a girl flashes her chest for a photo; there's also a bit of racy sex talk and some intense family arguments. But it's really the mature themes that make this best for older teens and and adults.
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What's the story?
In YOUTH IN OREGON, Ray (Frank Langella) is turning 80, and his heart isn't going to last anymore. Rather than endure a difficult operation, he tells his family that he's going to Oregon to pursue assisted suicide. Son-in-law Brian (Billy Crudup) ends up with the unenviable job of driving Ray across the country, making a few stops along the way to see other family members and hopefully resolve some nagging family grievances. (Christina Applegate, Josh Lucas, and Mary Kay Place co-star.)
Is it any good?
Get past the Little Miss Sunshine knock-off poster art and the similar road trip-brings-a-family-together storyline, and there's much to appreciate about this dramedy. A frank exploration of how an aging man stares mortality in the eye and tries to achieve some semblance of control (a losing battle for everyone), this family drama is surprisingly genuine in both characterization and feeling.
There are no tidy answers in Youth in Oregon, nor major epiphanies. What's left is relatable and appealing (aside from a third-act plot digression that, although it works, feels somewhat forced). It's imperfect, but it's worth a watch, especially to see Langella show everyone else how acting with quiet power and enormous presence is done.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Youth in Oregon tackles the subject of death. What position does it take on assisted suicide? Did it make you think differently about the topic?
Why do you think Ray doesn't share his decision with other people, especially his wife and daughter? What would you have done in his place?
- In theaters: February 3, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2017
- Cast: Frank Langella, Billy Crudup, Christina Applegate, Josh Lucas, Mary Kay Place
- Director: Joel David Moore
- Studio: Orion Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Character strengths: Compassion, Empathy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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