Family Squares parents guide

Family Squares Parent Guide

This story is at its best when examining the challenges of bereavement during lockdown. It loses resonance when it veers into comedic soap opera territory.

Overall C

Digital on Demand: After Mabel dies, her family has to work together to plan her funeral and put to rest old grudges. The challenge? They are in covid lockdown and are trying to do everything over zoom.

Release date February 25, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content B+
Profanity D
Substance Use D+

Why is Family Squares rated R? The MPAA rated Family Squares R for language

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

“Good to see you,” says Mabel (June Squibb) to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom are assembled on Zoom. “Welcome to my death.” After some emotional conversation, a few tears, and brief unconsciousness, Mabel passes away, in the virtual presence of her loved ones.

After Mabel’s death, the drama quotient ratchets up. The fractious family members must work together with Mabel’s bereaved wife (Ann Dowd) to plan a funeral amid the uncertainties of covid. As they struggle to make decisions, they begin receiving pre-taped recordings from Mabel, who gives them instructions and blows the lid off some deep, dark family secrets.

Another in the growing body of Covid-19 films, Family Squares attempts to find both humor and pathos in death in the time of coronavirus. The story is at its strongest when addressing the challenges of mourning in times of social distancing. Sharing memories online can help, but it doesn’t take the place of a warm hug or a shoulder to cry on. There’s something about physical connection that helps to spread the burdens of grief and its loss has been one of the great deprivations of the pandemic.

Moving away from its examination of bereavement, the film makes a significant tonal shift into a mildly comedic, very soapy drama. There are some good jokes that land well, many jokes that fall flat, and some plot elements ripped straight out of TV soap operas (a teen using drugs, surprise paternity, failing marriages, etcetera) . The screwball elements of the story don’t always work well with the more nuanced character studies and leave audiences confused about what kind of film they are watching.

There is no confusion, however, over the negative content that gives Family Squares a Restricted rating. This production is chock full of profanity, with close to 100 swear words, including over 30 sexual expletives. Add in teenage drug use and some thematic material and this really isn’t a good choice for family viewing.

The movie’s format also reduces its appeal. It’s filmed almost entirely as a zoom meeting, with the screen sectioned into nine windows. Characters encounter the usual technical problems – sound issues, frozen screens, non-tech-savvy users – that bedevil us in our daily lives. Frankly, when I’m sitting down to relax with a movie, I don’t want to reprise the real life zoom meetings that are the bane and blessing of our times. I want escape, darn it, and watching another family struggle to connect over computer screens just doesn’t provide enough.

Directed by Stephanie Laing. Starring June Squibb, Ann Dowd, Elsie Fisher, Henry Winkler. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release February 25, 2022. Updated

Family Squares
Rating & Content Info

Why is Family Squares rated R? Family Squares is rated R by the MPAA for language

Violence: A person dies without any graphic detail. Someone talks about people blowing up in an explosion. Characters play a first person shooter video game.  A character remembers being kicked in the groin. Two men have a physical battle with grappling and shoving.
Sexual Content:   There is reference to a marriage between two women. There’s a reference to questionable paternity. There’s mention of someone being a stripper.
Profanity:  Family members repeatedly make sexual finger gestures at each other. There are over 100 uses of profanity in the film, including more than 30 sexual expletives, 28 terms of deity, 20 scatological curses, over a dozen minor swear words, a couple of crude anatomical expressions, and a vulgar term for women.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   There’s mention of morphine being administered for pain control. A teenager smokes marijuana. Someone mentions an adult giving a 15 year old whiskey. An adult drinks wine.

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Family Squares Parents' Guide

Why does Mabel expose everyone’s secrets? Do you think her motivation makes sense? Do you think her family members are entitled to their privacy? Do you think the results justify her actions?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

When the family matriarch is diagnosed with lung cancer, her children refuse to share the bad news. In The Farewell, the entire clan gathers together in China to be with her before the end.

When her father is diagnosed with dementia, Kirsten Johnson begins work on Dick Johnson Is Dead. Working together, the father/daughter duo film increasingly cartoonish accidental death scenes to help each other cope with the uncertainties of the future.

When Bailey dies, her sister and the rest of the family are torn apart by grief. In The Sky Is Everywhere, younger sister Lennie has to learn how to go on living.

In Get Low, a reclusive hermit schedules his funeral to take place before he dies.