Based on a memoir by Jeannette Walls: an alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson) becomes estranged from one of his daughters (Brie Larson) as he raises her and her siblings without enough resources, or emotional stability. Also with Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Sarah Snook, Josh Caras, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Max Greenfield. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. [2:07]
SEX/NUDITY 5 - A woman seems to attempt to molest a young boy, her grandson: she has her hands down inside a boy's jeans at the level of the bottom of the frame, as the boy is struggling to get away; no flesh is evident (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details) and there is a suggestion that she molested his father as a boy.
► During a fight in front of children in a bedroom, a man grabs his wife, throws her on the bed and lies between her legs where her skirt is hiked up to reveal bare thighs and lower legs (both people are clothed); they laugh, kiss for several seconds, and briefly give the impression as if they are thrusting (there's no evident sexual act) with the children in the room (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details); during the incident, the woman hangs from a window ledge and dangles her legs as her skirt is blown up to mid-thigh.
► A man and woman dance in a bedroom, the man tries to kiss the woman, pushes her onto a bed and unzips the back of her dress; she rolls over on top of him, kisses him, and pulls down the top of her dress to reveal a bra, cleavage, and scar tissue across her stomach and abdomen (she puts her dress back on and walks out).
► A man and a woman kiss briefly in a car and another couple kisses briefly on a sidewalk. A man and a woman kiss briefly by a Christmas tree.
► A woman mentions lighting exposure; her husband says, "I like full exposure from you, dear."
► A swimming pool scene features dozens of men and boys wearing swim trunks while women and girls wear one-piece swimsuits that reveal the cleavage of a few women. A woman wears short shorts.
VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - A young girl uses a cigarette lighter to light a gas range burner, places a soup pot of water on the burner by climbing on a chair, cuts open a package of hot dogs with large shears, drops the shears on the floor, and drops hot dogs into the water; while stirring the pot with a long sharp two-pronged fork, she catches her dress on fire, screams and falls onto the floor, covered in flames from head to feet until her mother shouts and covers her with a rug and the camera cuts to the child in a hospital bed (no burns are visible).
► A husband and his wife argue, shouting, and the man becomes violent, destroying some of the woman's paintings and striking the woman around the shoulders; he chases her to an upstairs bedroom, cursing, as their four children go outside and the woman is seen hanging out the window, screaming; the children run upstairs, grab her back inside and the man says his wife bit him on the arm (no bite mark is seen). A young boy spits out green beans onto his dinner plate and his grandmother hits him in the head hard as the boy's sisters shout.
► A woman has her hands down inside a boy's (her grandson) jeans at the level of the bottom of the frame, as the boy is struggling to get away (we see no flesh); three girls enter the room and the woman slaps the glasses off the face of a teen girl, who punches the woman in the nose, another girl pushes the woman onto a bed and the children hold her down.
► In a flashback, a man repeatedly throws a young girl who cannot swim into deep water in a public pool; she panics, gasps, splutters, flails, and sinks each time, struggling under water and crying when she surfaces; she floats to the side of the pool, climbs out, cries, and screams, "Don't touch me! You tried to kill me," when the pool manager intervenes and the father chokes him in a headlock as other parents shout, the manager gets loose, and says, "You're going to jail!" as the man gathers his family, goes home to a shack, and they pack up and move away.
► Flashbacks show several times that a family with four children moved in the middle of the night to avoid arrest, squatting in houses without paying rent and living without running water, electricity or heat; the children are trapped by an alcoholic father who spends all the family's money on alcohol and does not provide them with food, he forces his wife and children to live in a rundown shack for years and forbids them to express emotion; the children are not allowed to attend school and they are told they are never allowed to leave home when they are older, he often lashes out, frightening them and he suffers severe mood swings that confuse them.
► A man says that an older man is going to throw him through a window. A man arm-wrestles with an older man while two women pound the table and shout; the men stand up and the older man punches the other man in the nose, creating red bruises across the bridge of the nose and the younger man grabs his nose and bends over in pain.
► A man puts a sling on his young son's arm and sends him down a hospital corridor, where the child shrieks and falls to the floor; in the chaos of running personnel, the man grabs the his injured daughter out of her hospital bed, runs to his car with her, and the family drives away without paying the bill, while two doctors run after the car briefly.
► A man goes on a drinking binge and returns home, drunk and beat up with a long wound bleeding on his upper arm and his face shows scrapes; his preteen daughter sews the arm wound closed after her father sterilizes the needle with a cigarette lighter's flame (we see the needle and thread going through the skin in close-up as the child cries). Two flashbacks show a man unwrapping bandages from his young daughter's midsection by a campfire; we see the entire stomach and abdomen covered by seeping red lines and raw skin as the girl cries. A child wears a bandage with a large spot of blood on it on his head and his father slaps him on the top of the head.
► A preteen girl asks her father if he can stop drinking, he asks her to leave the room and for several days, he has himself tied into a bed by the wrists, screaming and writhing during alcohol withdrawal; on one of these days, he begs the same daughter for whiskey, saying he will die without it and she cries and refuses to get it as he shrieks at her and she leaves.
► An enraged woman shouts at her father in a bedroom; they walk into the living room where a large party is in progress and she shouts at him, finally telling him to leave and not come back after she learned that when she was a girl, her homeless family owned a million dollars-worth of land and her parents refused to access the money to feed her and her siblings, who were starving. A man argues with a doctor and a social worker. A young girl tells her mother that she's hungry and the woman says she needs to paint a picture instead of cooking. A man picks up his children from their grandmother's house and shouts at all of them; at home, he pulls one girl from the car and pushes her roughly away, then kicks a large pile of trash angrily. A teen girl throws a plastic piggy bank at her father, who stole her money and he laughs. A man drives his family off road across rocks in a desert, jolting the car; the family is shown sleeping on blankets on the ground and a young girl thinks she sees a tree moving. Off-screen we hear a crash and the camera cuts to a broken glass window with a straight back chair stuck into it; we hear that a man's abusive mother has died. A woman in a taxi sees her parents scavenging for food in a dumpster; her father kicks the front of her taxi and walks away, shouting. A man barges into his daughter's college dormitory room, howling like a wolf and she looks angry and argues with him briefly. A woman visits her dying father at his rundown tenement and he coughs and groans; he says he was always afraid of the demons inside himself as they both become tearful.
► A man gives his young daughter a sheathed hunting knife to battle demons and the girl howls with her father and waves the sheathed knife in the air, and then runs with it (no injuries occur). Parents load their children, including a baby, into the back of a dark U-Haul truck and close the door. A family looks at a dilapidated shack with no running water or electricity and the fuse box sparks. A flashback shows four children asking their parents for food, but there is no food in the house; the children find a block of butter and some sugar, mix it together, and eat that. A man goes out to buy food, but is gone for 10 hours, returning empty handed and drunk (please see the Substance Use category for more details).
► An unkempt woman eats noodles and lets them hang out of her mouth.
PROFANITY 5 - At least 1 F-word (spoken off-screen), 15 scatological terms, 8 anatomical terms, 25 mild obscenities, name-calling (castrating whore, bottom feeders, crazy, insane, nutjob, stupid, dumb, dumb witch, idiots, old man, stubborn, fool, pervert, weird, dump, pawns, fat cats, hillbillies, thief, drunk, Rum Tug Tugger, Gestapo), exclamations (shut-up, heck), 10 religious profanities (GD), 10 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, Holy Mary, By God, God Help Me, Oh Jesus, I Swear To God, I Swear, a Christmas carol). [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - An alcoholic man drinks constantly throughout the film and his son says that he smoked four packs of cigarettes and drank two quarts of "booze" daily for 50 years (we hear that he dies of alcoholism), a man drinks whiskey every day and night at home and drinks something alcoholic from a paper bag as he sits on the side of a public pool, a man is shown passed out on a couch with an empty whiskey bottle on the floor, a man forces a younger man to drink several short glasses of whiskey with him and both men stagger and slur their words, a man and his father drink from large Mason jars full of moonshine, three people drink wine in a restaurant, a man drinks from a short glass of whiskey at a bar and a nearby table has three empty beer bottles on it, a cocktail party features glasses of champagne and whiskey in the hands of men and women and they drink from them, we see glasses of wine untouched, a serving cart in a home contains two carafes of amber liquid and a bottle of gin, and two men and a woman drink wine at a dinner. A man lights and smokes many cigarettes in an alley as well as on a sidewalk and in a house and on a porch and when lying on a couch and on a floor, and at a bar.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - Alcoholism, mental illness, recklessness, instability, lying, betrayal, wasted genius, child abuse, danger, fear, codependent enabling, gambling, starvation, poverty, parenting, responsibility, Stockholm Syndrome, escape, anger, dreams, journalism, personal success, resilience, love.
MESSAGE - Even a severely dysfunctional upbringing can be overcome.