Judy Parent Guide
Lots of glitz and glamour can't cover the tragedy that consumes the life of Judy Garland in this heartfelt biopic.
Parent Movie Review
It’s 1968 and Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger), now 46 years old, has wandered far from the yellow brick road that took her to Oz and global fame. Her options are dwindling and she realizes that she needs to make drastic decisions if she wants to win a custody battle and keep her children. She reluctantly accepts an offer to perform in London for a few months, hoping to make enough money to provide stability for her family.
Judy is a moving biopic of a woman struggling to find a way to care for her children while battling the demons of her own early years. Judy Garland had a painful life, starting with her childhood stardom in The Wizard of Oz and a studio environment which was often toxic for young performers. Belittled for her appearance and weight, constantly threatened with firing, and fed a steady diet of pills, Judy Garland didn’t get to be Dorothy without giving up nearly everything else. The film does a good job of showing this harrowing period, which often provides an explanation for Judy’s odd behavior later in life.
Based on a Broadway play entitled End of the Rainbow, this movie has a distinctly theatrical feel, especially during the flashbacks. With a larger-than-life and famously camp character like Garland, that works to its advantage. Her personality shines in the careful dialogue and minimal shooting style. It’s easy to imagine yourself in the audience of one of the London shows, watching Garland have a meltdown on stage.
Despite Judy Garland’s tumultuous life, parental concerns are reasonably limited. There is plenty of drinking, smoking, and abuse of prescription drugs, but this is shown in a negative light and has serious consequences - ultimately, her death by accidental overdose, which is not shown. There is less profanity than I expected, with most conversations completely devoid of any objectionable language. There are nine swear words overall, with two sexual expletives, but frankly, if I lived Judy Garland’s life, I’d probably swear at people from time to time.
For all the glitz and glamour around its star, this film is quite dark. There are a lot of good comic moments, but they can’t lighten the tragedy of Judy Garland’s life. Unless, that is, you find something funny about childhood trauma, drug and alcohol abuse, or divorce, in which case Judy is a total laugh riot from start to finish. Zellweger does a good job of balancing Garland’s sense of humor and strong personality with the seemingly endless personal tragedy, but you’d still be well advised to come to the theatre with some tissues. The lady behind me seemed to run through a few boxes on her own.Directed by Rupert Goold. Starring Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, and Michael Gambon. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release September 27, 2019. Updated September 24, 2019
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Judy rated PG-13? Judy is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking
Sexual Content: There are some uncomfortable but non-explicit references to the sexual harassment and abuse common in the studio system.
Profanity: There are nine uses of mild and moderate profanities, and two uses of extreme profanity. There is one use of a homophobic slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are shown drinking and smoking frequently. The protagonist struggles with abusing drugs and alcohol.
Page last updated September 24, 2019
Judy Parents' Guide
Judy’s life was negatively impacted by her early fame. This seems to be a frequent pattern with celebrities, especially those who found fame as children. Daniel Radcliffe, for instance, has spoken out about his battles with alcohol during his teen years when he was playing Harry Potter. Why do you think addiction can be such a problem for famous people? Do you know anyone who is struggling with addiction? What can you do to help them?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: National Helpline and Resources
Betty Ford Foundation: How to Talk About Addiction
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For the story that launched Judy Garland’s career, read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum. Readers who want to lose themselves in the fantasy can get a copy of Color the Classics: The Wizard of Oz: A Coloring Book Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road.
The Wizard of Oz spawned another massive hit. For another perspective on the story’s villain, read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the novel that led to the hit musical.
If you are a fan of the film, you’ll want to read The Essential Wizard of Oz: 11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Most-Watched Movie in Film History. Written by Horace Martin Woodhouse, this book is filled with stories and trivia about this piece of pop culture. Hardcore fans will want the more detailed The Making of the Wizard of Oz by Aljean Harmetz.
If you want to learn more about Judy Garland, you can start with Judy Garland: A Biography by Anne Edwards or Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clarke. Her ex-husband, Sid Luft, also wrote about Judy in a book he co-authored with Randy L. Schmidt, Judy and I: My Life with Judy Garland. And a heart-wrenching story of family love and loss is told by Judy’s daughter, Lorna Luft in her memoir, Me and My Shadows. Judy gets to tell her own story in Randy L Schmidt’s Judy Garland on Judy Garland: Interviews and Encounters.
Related home video titles:
If you want to watch the film that made Judy Garland a star, check out The Wizard Of Oz. This classic story has appeared in a number of other versions, including The Muppet Wizard of Oz, Oz the Great and Powerful, and the animated Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.
Judy Garland is far from the only celebrity to struggle under the glare of the spotlight. Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and the hit band Queen. Ray is the story of Ray Charles, his musical gifts, and his battle with addiction.