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"MARVIN'S ROOM"
(1996) (Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Minor Moderate None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Heavy Moderate Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Two sisters must deal with their differences after one becomes seriously ill.
PLOT:
Lee (MERYL STREEP) and Bessie (DIANE KEATON) are two sisters who haven't seen nor talked to each other for the past seventeen years. When their father, Marvin (HUGH CRONYN) got sick years ago, Bessie devoted her life to caring for him and her absent-minded Aunt Ruth (GWEN VERDON), while Lee went off and had two kids, Hank (LEONARDO DICAPRIO) and Charlie (HAL SCARDINO). When Bessie finds out she has leukemia, she calls on her sister for help and Lee and her boys arrive to be tested as possible bone marrow donors. Bessie wants Lee to care for their elders should anything happen to her, but Lee has just gotten a degree in cosmetology and says that she's just gotten her life back on track. Besides she has to watch over seventeen-year-old Hank who recently burned down their house to get attention. As Bessie meets with her scatter-minded specialist, Dr. Wally (ROBERT DE NIRO), she must also deal with her estranged sister and arrange for care of her father and aunt.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Not unless they're fans of any of the actors/actresses involved.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For thematic elements and brief language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MERYL STREEP plays a very domineering mother, especially toward Hank. She is also very determined not to take care of her ailing father and absent-minded aunt.
  • DIANE KEATON plays a woman who's devoted her life to caring for her father and aunt when she finds out she herself is sick.
  • LEONARDO DICAPRIO plays a disturbed seventeen-year-old who burns down his house for attention and has a bad attitude toward his mother and life in general.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    Delicately balancing humor and drama, this production succeeds on both fronts and is a pleasantly enjoyable film. Everyone delivers impeccable performances with Keaton shining through as always. While Streep is good, her character could have been given a bit more detail to make her just a little more believable (she doesn't seem too upset about her house being burnt down by her son). The supporting cast, however, is excellent with Dicaprio, De Niro, and Verdon delivering fine performances. And Dan Hedaya as Dr. Wally's brother/assistant provides funny interludes that are unfortunately too brief. There are other humorous moments sprinkled throughout the film, such as any time Aunt Ruth feels pain, she zaps herself with an electrode stimulator that coincidently opens the garage door at the same time. Such moments provide comic relief for the more serious issues at hand that are also handled competently. You can't go wrong with a movie that makes you laugh and cry, and thankfully the emotion laden scenes are held to a minimum (we hate being manipulated into tearing up). We enjoyed this film and give it a 7 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Other than a little profanity (1 "f" and 2 "s" words being the worst) and Hank setting fire to the house to burn it down, there's not a great deal to object to. While kids probably won't want to see this one, it does provide for some conversational topics such as taking care of family members and overcoming longstanding grievances to come to a common goal. Since Dicaprio is probably seen as a role model by your kids, his actions and attitude (both bad on occasion) should be watched. As always, we suggest you read the scene listings to determine if this movie is appropriate for you and your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A needle is seen being inserted into a hip (in close up), but there's no blood.
  • Bessie has some blood in her mouth and some of it's seen on a straw she's drinking with and then on her hand.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Hank has both toward his mother and life in general, but he eventually comes around.
  • Lee thinks that Bessie has thrown away her life for the past twenty years (taking care of their father and aunt) and that she's not going to do the same now that she's "gotten her life together."
  • Lee smokes in a psychiatrist's office although the doctor has told her she'd rather her not.
  • Hank steals money from his mother's purse.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Hank pours lighter fluid onto family photos and then sets them on fire in a bedroom. He then takes Charlie and they leave the home, purposefully burning it down (only Hank is responsible).
  • Hank talks about another (mental) patient holding a razor blade under his tongue to beat Hank's duration record for doing the same, but later we learn this may have been a lie.
  • Hank clears his throat and spits to irritate his mother after she's said that she's proud of him.
  • Phrase: "Shut up."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 "f" word, 2 "s" words, 1 hell, and 3 uses of "Oh my God," 2 uses each of "Oh God," "Jesus," and "God," and 1 use of "God damn" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Aunt Ruth watches a TV soap opera and two characters are seen after having had sex (no nudity or sexual movement). The actress then says, "We didn't make love. We had sex. Like animals. Like pets."
  • SMOKING
  • Lee smokes throughout the movie, while Hank is also occasionally seen smoking.
  • A character in a TV soap opera smokes a cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Lee tells Hank that she took the kids and moved out when Hank was four because his father was beating him. Hank denies this and seems to have held a grudge against his mother for his father not being around. He also burns down the house evidently to spite her.
  • Lee and Bessie haven't seen or talked to each other for seventeen years since their father became ill and Lee decided she wanted nothing to do with taking care of him. It's been so bad between them, that the two boys didn't even know they had an aunt. The topic of caring for their elders comes up again, and there is some mild fighting between them over that subject.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Leukemia.
  • Taking care of family members when they get sick and/or old.
  • Hank is put into a mental institution and is seen strapped to his bed.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Hank pours lighter fluid onto family photos and then sets them on fire in a bedroom. He then takes Charlie and they leave the home, purposefully burning it down.
  • Aunt Ruth watches a TV soap opera where a woman is screaming for a man to stop trying to rape her (it's not as bad as it sounds and nothing is seen).
  • Hank slaps Charlie on the back of the head.



  • Reviewed January 11, 1997

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