Before You Know It parents guide

Before You Know It Parent Guide

A quirky little film, filled with offbeat characters, wry humor, positive messages about family...and some extreme profanity.

Overall C+

Mel owns a theater, his flighty daughter Celia acts, his other daughter Rachel is the stage manager and makes sure the bills are paid. Then Mel dies and old family secrets turn their lives upside down.

Release date September 20, 2019

Violence B
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is Before You Know It rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Before You Know It Not Rated

Run Time: 98 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The Gurner family have devoted their lives to the stage. The father, Mel (Mandy Patinkin), is a once-famous Broadway actor who now writes plays for the family’s financially stressed neighborhood theater. Firstborn daughter, Celia (Ayden Mayeri), is pursuing an acting career while neglecting her 12-year-old daughter, Dodge (Oona Yaffe). And daughter Rachel (Hannah Pearl Utt) is the stage manager/producer/director and designated grown up. The whole clan lives together in an apartment above the theater in a state of affectionate, claustrophobic craziness.

Already struggling to fund Mel’s latest play, Rachel and Celia are devastated when their father dies. But their grief is mixed with confusion and anger when they discover that Mel hasn’t been completely honest about their family’s past. The mother they believed to be dead (Judith Light) is very much alive and clinging to her role in a mediocre soap opera … and is the residual owner of the theater. To save the theater, the sisters will have to find their mom and hope she won’t throw them out of their home.

Before You Know It is a quirky little film. It’s filled with offbeat characters, from eccentric Mel to free spirit Celia to Rachel, the repressed, prudent planner. And, of course there’s Sherrell, the long-lost mother. All these characters are played with bone deep sincerity and feel completely real on the screen. Celia’s open-hearted eagerness to establish a relationship with her mother, Rachel’s wary caution, Sherrell’s shaky vulnerability – all feel organic and authentic.

The solid character development bestows Before You Know It with real heart. The Gurners might be oddballs whose choices can make us cringe, but they are so human they are hard to resist. The writing not only underpins the characters, it also sustains the movie’s comedy. This isn’t a laugh-out-loud film for the most part, but there are plenty of wry moments that will have moviegoers nodding in recognition. There is one narrative arc, in particular, which will either amuse or offend viewers - when Dodge has her first period away from home. Lacking sanitary supplies, she has to come up with a back up plan. This shot is poignantly funny, but the scene where a friend instructs her on using a tampon is one that will have most women laughing – unless they are appalled by it. (Personally, I found it less offensive than most feminine hygiene commercials, but that’s my opinion.)

Whether or not Before You Know It is suitable for your teens depends on your family’s values. The movie contains ten sexual expletives, which would seem to push it into Restricted territory (although it isn’t yet rated by the MPAA). This is particularly frustrating because this show would easily receive a PG-13 rating without these swear words. The film also has some sexual content: Celia wears cleavage exposing shirts and Rachel groin-punches a man who attempts to kiss her in what he thinks is a rehearsal. Rachel also kisses a woman after a date, which will please parents looking for positive portrayals of same sex relationships and will concern those with traditional views of sexuality. And parents will want to consider Celia’s drinking problem, which is bad enough that Dodge asks her to sober up.

Content issues aside, this productioncomes with some positive themes. It celebrates the strength we draw from our families, however much they might drive us crazy. It delivers strong messages on the need to take responsibility for our own choices. And the movie shows us that change is always possible; that it’s never too late to grow up. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself smiling at the characters and rooting for them as they take their faltering steps into their new lives.

Directed by Hannah Pearl Utt. Starring Hannah Pearl Utt, Ayden Mayeri, Mandy Patinkin, Judith Light, Oona Yaffe. Running time: 98 minutes. Theatrical release September 20, 2019. Updated

Watch the trailer for Before You Know It

Before You Know It
Rating & Content Info

Why is Before You Know It rated Not Rated? Before You Know It is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: A main character briefly refers to a play where a woman kills her children. Actors audition for a part where a man is stabbed and there are multiple portrayals of his death on the stage. A man collapses and dies. A woman punches a man in the crotch when he kisses her.
Sexual Content: A woman goes on a date with another woman: they kiss at the end of the date. A man takes off his shirt and kisses a woman despite her objections: he thinks they are rehearsing for a play until she punches his crotch. There is brief, conversational mention of a “hooker” and “sex worker”. There is a scene involving a young girl using tampons for the first time; there is dialogue and filming above the waist but no graphic detail. There is mention of adultery. A woman is shown in her underwear. A woman frequently wears clothing that exposes her cleavage.
Profanity: A conservative count gives 18 profanities, with 10 sexual expletives, five scatological curses, and three terms of deity. There are also a handful of crude expressions.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink on social occasions. A main character drinks to excess in public, drinks frequently at home, and there is mention of her drinking problem. A thirteen year old mentions smoking marijuana: there is no on screen smoking. A man drinks alcohol at home.

Page last updated

Before You Know It Parents' Guide

Why do you think Mel told the girls their mother was dead? Do you think it’s ever acceptable to tell a lie? Why or why not?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

In Where’d You Go, Bernadette, an otherwise devoted mother suddenly disappears. Author Maria Semple has created an unforgettable character in this novel of love, anxiety, dreams and dedication.

Family in all its messiness stars in Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café series. Start with Home from the Vinyl Café and go from there.

My Family and Other Animals is filled with larger-than-life crazy relatives. Gerald Durrell has mined his memory for his family’s experiences living on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s. Zany, unpredictable, and over-the-top, his family will have you laughing out loud.

Family secrets are the heart of Bliss Broyard’s memoir: One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life – A Story of Race and Family Secrets. Bliss grew up believing her father was a white man from Louisiana. After his death, she learned that he was an African American man who had “passed” as white. The revelation sent Bliss on a quest to uncover her family’s past and assess her own identity.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Before You Know It movie is December 10, 2019. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

However much we love our families, they can also drive us crazy. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a comic celebration of the smothering, maddening, and yet supportive love of a big extended family. Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of a family torn between tradition and change through the eyes of the sometimes bewildered father. Another clueless dad stars in Cheaper by the Dozen, a story of a family with 12 kids and the inevitable chaos that comes with a crowd. In Coco, a young boy travels to the land of the dead before he realizes how important his family is to him.