[Screen It]


(1999) (Janet McTeer, Kimberly J. Brown) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Heavy Minor Minor
Moderate None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Minor Moderate Mild Mild

Drama: A single mother and her twelve-year-old daughter move across the country trying to find some happiness and stability in their lives.
Mary Jo Walker (JANET McTEER) is a woman in her late thirties who loves to flirt with men, but never has any luck in landing a decent one. First married at the age of seventeen, Mary Jo has gone through several husbands and even more boyfriends, the latest of which has similarly become abusive toward her.

Thus, she grabs her things and hits the road with her twelve-year-old daughter, Ava (KIMBERLY J. BROWN), leaving West Virginia for anywhere that may be better. After some discussion and concern over Ava's asthma, they head off for and finally arrive in the oceanside community of Starlight Beach, just outside San Diego.

There, Ava enrolls in the local school and quickly makes friends with Zoe (ASHLEY BUCCILLE) and Adam (CODY McMAINS), both of whom are in her drama class and wish to audition for the school's production of "Romeo and Juliet."

Meanwhile, Mary Jo gets a job at a security company run by Mr. Cummings (MICHAEL J. POLLARD), a quirky character drawn to her flirtatious ways. It's there that she meets her coworkers, Laurie (LAUREL HOLLOMAN), a fun-loving woman with a penchant for coffee enemas and Dan (JAY O. SANDERS), a soft-spoken but friendly sort.

When Mary Jo runs into Jack Ranson (GAVIN O'CONNOR), a manly truck driver who earlier fixed their broken down car, Ava once again sees the disaster looming but is powerless to stop her mom from getting involved with him.

Soon Mary Jo and Ava move in with Jack and from that point on, only time will tell whether the daughter's belligerence toward Jack and/or the clash between his conservative nature and Mary Jo's more freewheeling spirit will lead them down the familiar path of domestic blight.

While some may be drawn by the "buzz" surrounding the film, the fact that it essentially has a "no name" cast and comes on the heels of the similarly plotted, but less than financially successful "Anywhere But Here" probably means most kids won't be interested in it.
For language, sensuality and a scene of domestic discord.
  • JANET McTEER plays an outgoing and flirtatious single mother who cusses, sleeps with a guy she just met and then moves herself and her prepubescent daughter in with him.
  • KIMBERLY J. BROWN plays her precocious daughter who cusses a few times and acts belligerent toward any man her mother seems interested in, no matter their intentions.
  • GAVIN O'CONNOR plays one of those men who meets Mary Jo, beds her only on their second meeting and has her move in with him. Although he's generally an okay guy, the pressures of life and trying to cope with Mary Jo and Ava's ways eventually brings out the meanness and some cussing in him.
  • JAY O. SANDERS plays one of Mary Jo's coworkers who befriends her.
  • LAUREL HOLLOMAN plays another of Mary Jo's coworkers, a fun-loving young woman with a penchant for coffee enemas (not seen, but discussed).


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief look at the content found in this PG-13 rated drama. Profanity is heavy due to at least 1 use of the "f" word, while other profanities and colorful phrases are also used (some from a preteen). The single mother has sex with a man she's only met once before and while we don't see the actual encounter, her daughter does walk in on her and her lover fooling around. Other sexually related material and comments are also present.

    Although it's not a true husband/wife fight, the preteen hears her mom and her live-in lover get into a near knockdown, drag out fight and the mother seems to have a penchant for choosing men who eventually become abusive in way one or another. Those men and other characters show varying degrees of bad attitudes.

    Beyond that, a moderate amount of drinking, some smoking and some material concerning menstrual periods, coffee enemas and the passing of gas, the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable material. That said, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.

  • Mary Jo's live-in boyfriend drinks during a fight.
  • Ava comments about her mom having a pina colada once they're in California.
  • Mary Jo and Laurie drink shots in a bar where others also drink.
  • Mary Jo and Jack drink a leftover beer to rinse some toothpaste out of their mouths.
  • Mary Jo has a beer while sitting on the beach.
  • Jack drinks a beer.
  • Jack has a beer with dinner, and he and Mary Jo do the same in a restaurant (with Jack also having a shot of liquor).
  • Dan jokingly asks Ava if he can get her a beer (she declines).
  • Mary Jo pulls out some beers to celebrate Laurie's announcement that she's getting married.
  • We hear Ava fart several times in a restaurant and then see both her and Mary Jo reacting to the smell (and then talking/joking about it).
  • Although we never see any signs of it, Mary Jo and Laurie talk about their "periods," and Ava gets her first one while kissing a boy. Later, Mary Jo and Ava jokingly play around with some new sanitary napkins, putting them on their heads and on the crotch of a dress making mannequin.
  • Laurie talks about getting coffee enemas and that they deliver a "good buzz" as well as a cleansing.
  • Some may see Mary Jo's flirtatious ways with men (including moving in with them along with her prepubescent daughter) as having some of both types of attitudes.
  • The way that those men (including Jack) react and respond to Mary Jo shows that they have both types of attitudes as well.
  • We see that someone broke into Mary Jo and Ava's car and stole their belongings.
  • Ava acts belligerent toward Jack and her mother's relationship with him.
  • When Dan catches Ava making cheek protruding, squinty-eyed copies of her face on the copying machine, Ava states that she's trying to look like a 200-pound Chinese woman.
  • Mary Jo's boss flirts with and is demeaning toward her.
  • The scenes where Mary Jo's boyfriends act belligerent toward her (and during fights) may be tense and/or unsettling to some viewers.
  • We briefly see a magazine cover showing nothing but knives.
  • Fake knives: Seen in a school production of "Romeo and Juliet."
  • Phrases: "Choking his chicken" (masturbating), "Piece of crap," "Freakin'," "Bird turd," "Piss," "Jeez," "Shut up" and "Pissed off."
  • Mary Jo throws her soft drink can out the window while driving and then encourages Ava to throw out her old clothes with her as they drive along (littering).
  • Mary Jo gives "the finger" to a driver who doesn't stop to help them when their car is broken down on the highway.
  • Laurie talks about getting coffee enemas and that they deliver a "good buzz" as well as a cleansing (we never see any such behavior, however).
  • Ava makes copies of her distorted face on a copying machine.
  • When he's not looking, Ava gives Jack the "kiss my butt" gesture with her hand and nose.
  • After seeing Ava take a necessary "hit" off her asthma ventilator, Adam asks if he can take a hit, does so, and then thinks it's "cool."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "f' word, 17 "s" words, 1 slang term for breasts ("ta-tas"), 5 asses (4 used with "hole"), 3 hells, 2 damns, 1 crap and 15 uses of "G-damn," 2 each of "Good Lord" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Oh Lord," "God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • We briefly see some posters of women in bathing suits or skimpy outfits in a store.
  • Mary Jo shows varying amounts of cleavage (often quite a lot) in various outfits she wears in many different scenes. Laurie also shows a bit of cleavage.
  • We see Mary Jo in her bra as she changes clothes (and thus more cleavage).
  • Mary Jo and Laurie joke about their boss while having drinks in a bar. One comments about giving him a hand and they then joke about him masturbating (and even move their hands in the typical male masturbation gesture). Laurie then says that he's probably "choking his chicken and aiming it at his little plant."
  • We see that Mary Jo and Jack have slept together (he's still in bed while she makes breakfast). He then comments on her "ass" and she does a little self-described "fanny dance" for him. He then comments that he's "hungry" for her and the two then kiss with "morning breath" toothpaste in their mouths. As she straddles him in bed, they use beer to rinse out the toothpaste and kiss with both "liquids" running down their mouths (but all of this stops with Ava unexpectedly walks in).
  • As Jack leaves to go to work, Mary Jo lowers her robe to show him her bare breasts, but we don't see anything as they're below the camera's viewpoint (although he sees and reacts to the sight of them).
  • Ava wonders when she's going to develop her "ta-tas" and pulls on them, while Mary Jo wonders if Adam has tried to feel them.
  • Adam's teenager sister and her boyfriend make out in a movie theater.
  • Jack gives Mary Jo some sexy and see-through lingerie as a gift and wants her to try it on, but she doesn't.
  • When Laurie mentions that she's getting married, she also states that she's throwing away her pills so that she can get pregnant (indicating she's been using them with her boyfriend).
  • We briefly see Mary Jo in her underwear as she hikes up her dress to iron it while she's still wearing it.
  • We see Ava and Adam making out in a parked car.
  • Jack and Mary Jo's boss smoke once, while background people in a bar also smoke.
  • We learn that Mary Jo has been divorced several times.
  • Although it's not a father/mother fight, Ava hears her mother fighting with her live-in boyfriend and after much yelling and screaming, Mary Jo packs up Ava and the two leave. Later, Ava sees Jack being disrespectful of Mary Jo and the two move out of his home.
  • Mary Jo and Ava fight about leaving town (and Mary Jo briefly runs away -- but only to Dan's camper).
  • Dan mentions that his wife died in a car accident (indicating he was drunk driving and thus responsible).
  • Mary Jo's need to flirt with men (usually the wrong kind) and the disastrous relationships she gets herself into.
  • The mother/daughter relationship and how it plays out here.
  • During a domestic fight, Mary Jo's live-in boyfriend throws something at her, violently overturns a table and then comes after her, grabbing her arms and threatening to punch her (and hits the refrigerator instead).
  • We see that someone broke into Mary Jo and Ava's car and stole their belongings (by breaking a window).
  • A person gets punched on some old movie on TV.

  • Reviewed December 1, 1999 / Posted December 10, 1999

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