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"MY SISTER'S KEEPER"
(2009) (Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz) (PG-13)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: An 11-year-old girl sues her parents to prevent them from forcing her to donate her kidney to her terminally ill teenage sister.
PLOT:
Things have been rough for a number of years for the Fitzgerald family, what with 15-year-old Kate (SOFIA VASSILIEVA) battling leukemia and now renal failure. Her mom, Sara (CAMERON DIAZ), gave up her law practice to devote her undivided attention to Kate's care, and with the help of her sister, Kelly (HEATHER WAHLQUIST), Sara never gives up hope that her daughter will be okay.

Even so, the illness has put a strain on the rest of the family, including older brother Jesse (EVAN ELLINGSON), 11-year-old Anna (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), and their firefighter father, Brian (JASON PATRIC). The situation becomes more complicated, however, when Anna retains lawyer Campbell Alexander (ALEC BALDWIN) to sue her parents for control of her body.

Back when Kate was first diagnosed, they had Anna genetically engineered to be a perfect donor match for her older sister. Yet, after years of painful procedures and the thought of having to lead a careful life should she donate one of her kidneys to Kate, the 11-year-old has changed her mind, with the court case going before judge Joan De Salvo (JOAN CUSACK) who recently lost her own daughter to a drunk driver.

With Kate's health changing, sometimes for the better -- such as when she meets fellow cancer patient Taylor Ambrose (THOMAS DEKKER) -- and sometimes for the worse, Anna's surprise legal move adds additional strain to the already stressful situation her family is facing.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't too likely that a tearjerker about a kid with cancer will be terribly enticing for most children.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language and brief teen drinking.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ABIGAIL BRESLIN plays an 11-year-old girl who loves her terminally ill sister, but hires Campbell to represent her in a legal case arguing that her parents can't force her to donate a kidney to Kate. Unusually bright and empathetic for her age, she realizes the pain her decision is causing for her family, but sticks to her guns.
  • CAMERON DIAZ plays her mom, a former lawyer who gave up her practice in order to devote her undivided attention toward Kate's care. Accordingly, she's less than pleased by Anna's surprise legal move, and that and her never give up philosophy puts strain on her and the rest of the family. She uses profanity (some of it briefly strong) and briefly drinks.
  • SOFIA VASSILIEVA plays the ill teenager who's battling cancer and renal failure, and goes through all of the normal emotional and physical reactions to her condition. It's implied that she sleeps with Taylor after falling for him, and she appears intoxicated in a flashback.
  • JASON PATRIC plays Kate's dad, a firefighter who's torn regarding Anna's decision and its potential impact on her sister and the rest of their family. He uses some profanity and drinks some beer.
  • EVAN ELLINGSON plays Kate's older brother who's not only affected by his sister's condition, but is also going through his own personal crisis, exacerbated by the fact that no one else seems to notice.
  • ALEC BALDWIN plays an ambulance chaser type lawyer who's quite good at what he does, including representing Anna in her unusual case. His involvement in that somewhat stems from his own medical condition that's revealed late in the film.
  • JOAN CUSACK plays the judge who's presiding over the legal battle, with her own personal tragedy -- having lost her 12-year-old daughter to a drunk driver -- obviously playing into her view of the matter.
  • THOMAS DEKKER plays the teen cancer patient who befriends and then becomes Kate's boyfriend right when she needs that. It's implied that they have sex.
  • HEATHER WAHLQUIST plays Kate's only extended relative who's around all of the time to help out. She uses some profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    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).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Sexually related dialogue is present, while an unmarried teen couple is in bed, apparently nude and presumably after sex, while they also make out in an earlier scene.

    All sorts of tense family scenes are present, as is thematic material revolving around a teen dying from leukemia and renal failure, and a legal battle about potentially forced organ donation. Bad attitudes are present, as is some drinking, including briefly by a teen who appears intoxicated.

    Scatological material is present (bleeding, vomiting and bruises all related to cancer), there's brief property damage violence, and the overall situation and related visuals of a person dying from cancer might be unsettling to some viewers. Some behavior might be enticing for some kids to imitate.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that from a photo booth taking shots of the family during a montage.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's brief camera movement, from some grainy home movies, and then some up and down footage on a trampoline. We also see a character sitting up on the ledge of a roof (including a potentially vertigo-inducing shot looking down).


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Anna mentions that most babies are accidents and the product of drunken evenings and lack of birth control.
  • Brian has a beer with dinner, and we see another unopened bottle in front of him. He later has beer in another scene while Sara has wine.
  • Anna states some of her concerns about having only one kidney, with her aunt saying that Anna won't be able to drink.
  • We hear that Joan's 12-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver.
  • Campbell mentions opiates for pain (regarding cancer).
  • Kate jokingly asks fellow cancer patient Taylor what he's at the cancer treatment facility for, and he jokingly replies "the free cocktails."
  • Sara mentions that Taylor was a different kind of "drug" that made Kate better.
  • We see a flashback to Anna hearing crashing sounds and loud music from Kate's bedroom. When she opens the door, Anna says it smells like booze and Kate's seen holding a beer bottle and appears intoxicated as she thrashes things about in her room, including throwing the bottle. She then tries downing many pills, with Anna tackling her to prevent that apparent suicide attempt.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see Kate with a very bloody nose from her condition.
  • We see bad bruises on young Kate's back from her condition.
  • We see blood being drawn into a syringe.
  • We see Kate vomiting a great deal of blood while her siblings watch in horror, and she then has blood from her nose and mouth.
  • A nurse tells Kate she needs a urine sample, and is somewhat mean in that demand. That prompts Kate to play a joke on her, drinking from her supposed urine sample (it's apple juice or something similar) and then spraying that out.
  • Taylor jokingly bets Kate $100 that she won't last until a certain time before "tossing your cookies" from chemo. She then vomits and he catches that in a plastic hospital tub. He helps her clean up, gives her some gum to freshen her breath, and jokes about what she had to eat.
  • Kate has a bloody nose and it's implied that she's soiled her bed, with Anna having to tend to that including cleaning both that and her, but nothing of the latter is directly seen.
  • As Kate gets sicker, she progressively has more bruises.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may view Anna's decision to sue her parents over control over her own body (to prevent them from forcing her to donate a kidney to possibly save her sister's life) as being selfish in regard to the latter. However, all of that is explained/justified at the end.
  • Joan mentions Campbell having sued God in the past (some viewers might not like that).
  • A nurse tells Kate she needs a urine sample, and is somewhat mean in that demand. That prompts Kate to say (out of earshot), "What a bitch."
  • Some may view Sara's refusal to give up as a bad attitude in regard to quality of life for Kate's remaining days.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Blood/Gore" as well as the overall situation and related visuals of a person dying from cancer might be unsettling to some viewers. Viewers should note that several cancer patients do die (we don't see the actual deaths).
  • We see Jesse sitting up on the ledge of a roof (including a potentially vertigo-inducing shot looking down) and then standing on the same, but nothing happens.
  • We see a flashback to Anna hearing crashing sounds and loud music from Kate's bedroom. When she opens the door, Anna says it smells like booze and Kate's seen holding a beer bottle and appears intoxicated as she thrashes things about in her room, including throwing the bottle. She then tries downing many pills, with Anna tackling her to prevent that apparent suicide attempt.
  • SPOILER ALERT: Campbell collapses in the hallway outside the courtroom and starts convulsing. We then hear that he's epileptic and he's later seen okay.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You got a f*cking divorce," "Don't know sh*t," "Don't start that sh*t," "What sh*t?" "You know you're nuts, right?" "What the hell is going on?" "I'm not your freaking secretary," "What/she's a bitch," "Who is this broad?" "Girl, that boy is fine," "It's really dorky," "Sucked," "Crazy bitch mother" and "It's the damndest thing."
  • A miscellaneous fireman has tattoos on his arm.
  • A fireman shows Anna how to hang a spoon off one's nose.
  • With Kate saying she's ugly (due to her condition, including being bald), Sara marches off and shaves her own head.
  • A nurse tells Kate she needs a urine sample, and is somewhat mean in that demand. That prompts Kate to play a joke on her, drinking from her supposed urine sample (it's apple juice or something similar) and then spraying that out.
  • Kate wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • We see Jesse sitting up on the ledge of a roof and then standing on the same, but nothing happens.
  • We see a flashback to Anna hearing crashing sounds and loud music from Kate's bedroom. When she opens the door, Anna says it smells like booze and Kate's seen holding a beer bottle and appears intoxicated as she thrashes things about in her room, including throwing the bottle. She then tries downing many pills, with Anna tackling her to prevent that apparent suicide attempt.
  • We briefly see miscellaneous graffiti.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None that we heard, but there are some lyrics in a song that we couldn't fully hear and/or understand, thus presenting the possibility of them potentially containing something objectionable.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 4 "s" words, 5 slang terms for sex ("did it"), 2 hells, 1 damn, 7 uses of "Oh my God," 3 of "God," 2 each of "G-damn" and "Jesus Christ" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes" and "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We hear Anna talk about how and why children are born, with her saying it's when "two people have sex or whatever," and we see a microscopic view of wiggling sperm. She also mentions that most babies are accidents and the product of drunken evenings and lack of birth control.
  • We briefly see the side of a young girl's bare butt (nothing explicit) as she lies face down on a hospital table for a procedure.
  • Anna states some of her concerns about having only one kidney, such as whether she'll be able to get pregnant in the future.
  • We see miscellaneous and out of focus cleavage as a woman (somewhat implied to be a hooker) passes by Jesse on the street.
  • Kate and Taylor passionately kiss (clothed and standing) for a few moments at the end of their date. Afterwards, Kate announces to Anna that they kissed, with Anna wondering if it was sexy, gross or if there was a lot of tongue.
  • Taylor jokingly tells Kate she owes him for losing a bet. She playfully replies that she has no money, but can pay him in sexual favors (all within earshot of Sara who tries to act oblivious).
  • Taylor and Kate sneak away from a dance in the hospital, and we next see them in an apparently nude embrace on a hospital bed (we see her bare back and his bare chest), presumably after sex.
  • Kate is upset that Taylor hasn't called after they slept together, and then blurts out to her mom that they "did it," with that term being used back and forth several times. When pressed by her mom, Kate then says "we did some stuff" (so we don't know if intercourse occurred or she's just fibbing here in front of her mom).
  • We see Brian shirtless on the beach, while Kelly is seen frolicking with Jesse and Anna in a shirt and some small denim shorts.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Kate has leukemia as well as renal failure, and her illness has put a great deal of strain on the family, a long-standing condition that plays throughout the entire film.
  • We see Kate vomiting a great deal of blood while her siblings watch in horror.
  • Upon learning that Anna is suing her parents over control over her body (to prevent them from forcing her to donate a kidney to possibly save her sister's life), Sara slaps her across the face.
  • As tensions rise after the filed lawsuit, Anna complains that her dad is never home, and that he leaves "me here with her" (referring to her mom). She later repeats what her mom said (not heard/seen) of "get her out of here" and that she (Sara) didn't want to see her (Anna's) face anymore.
  • Anna hears and sees her parents arguing over her decision and their earlier one to create her as a donor child.
  • We hear Kate mention that cancer is not only killing her, but her family too, and there are some poignant "I'm sorry" observations by her regarding what her condition has done to the various family members.
  • We hear that Jesse was dyslexic in the past, and there's a flashback scene where he's young and crying over news that he's being sent away for a year to a school that will help him. Later in the film, he appears to be having his own sort of crisis, maybe even potentially running away, but he comes home and is shocked his dad doesn't even seem to have noticed.
  • We hear that Joan had a mental breakdown following the death of her 12-year-old daughter to a drunk driver. Anna politely asks her what it was like when her daughter died, prompting Joan to tear up and Anna to apologize for asking.
  • Kate's doctor tells Sara that this is it and that they're at the end. Kate then asks him about the same and how long it will be, and he's straight with her. She asks if it will hurt and he says no, that he'll make sure of that.
  • Upset upon hearing that Brian is taking Kate to the beach, Sara grabs him and tries to take the keys, but he spins her around and she falls to the ground. She then tries to stop him, with him saying she better come along or else he'll divorce her. That prompts her to yell out, "You got your f*cking divorce."
  • The court case, questioning and related testimonials put additional stress on the family.
  • We see a flashback to Anna hearing crashing sounds and loud music from Kate's bedroom. When she opens the door, Anna says it smells like booze and Kate's seen holding a beer bottle and appears intoxicated as she thrashes things about in her room, including throwing the bottle. She then tries downing many pills, with Anna tackling her to prevent that apparent suicide attempt.
  • SPOILER ALERT: We hear Anna state that Kate died that night as she simply stopped breathing. We then see the funeral scene, and hear Anna mention that nothing profound stemmed from all of that, stating that Kate simply died and they have to go on from there.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The ethical, medical and legal issues at play in this story.
  • Leukemia.
  • Renal failure.
  • Organ donation.
  • Teen sex.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Drunk driving.
  • Genetic engineering, in this case to create a perfect donor child to help a sick sibling.
  • Sara quitting her law practice in order to devote all of her time and energy to care for Kate.
  • The strain that an illness such as cancer can put on a family.
  • The comment that there's no shame in dying.
  • We hear that Jesse was dyslexic in the past.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Upon learning that Anna is suing her parents over control over her body (to prevent them from forcing her to donate a kidney to possibly save her sister's life), Sara slaps her across the face.
  • Upset upon hearing that Brian is taking Kate to the beach, Sara grabs him and tries to take the keys, but he spins her around and she falls to the ground.
  • We see a flashback to Anna hearing crashing sounds and loud music from Kate's bedroom. When she opens the door, Anna says it smells like booze and Kate's seen holding a beer bottle and appears intoxicated as she thrashes things about in her room, including throwing the bottle. She then tries downing many pills, with Anna tackling her to prevent that apparent suicide attempt.



  • Reviewed June 23, 2009 / Posted June 26, 2009

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