The Fabelmans Parent Guide
In his own portrait of a director as a young man, Spielberg takes a nostalgic trip into his early fascination with film.
Parent Movie Review
Burt (Paul Dano) and his wife, Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams), are unsure how their young son Sammy (Mateo Zoryon Francis-Deford) is going to react to his first motion picture – Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. That is, until they find him in the basement recreating the climactic trainwreck from the film with the model train set he got for Hanukkah. From then on, Sammy is determined to make movies. Whether it is a Western made with his friends for a Boy Scout merit badge, or the editing work done on family movies, Sammy never steps away from the camera for long.
As life goes on, Sammy (played as a teenager by Gabrielle LaBelle) finds that things are more complicated than film speed, cuts, splices, or soundtracks. His family life changes when his dad takes jobs in Arizona and then California, and Sammy needs to start living in the real world. If he allows it, his passion for filmmaking could be all-consuming. The trick for Sammy is making time for his family.
Part nostalgia trip, part autobiography, Steven Spielberg’s latest film overflows with his love of film and his family – despite an increasingly complex relationship with the latter. Sammy’s obsession with making movies is so catching. I get it: I managed to con people into paying me real money to watch movies for work. I really relate to Sammy’s passion for the craft – I just lack the ability. So instead, I sit here and pick apart other people’s work. But it’s closer than I expected to get.
Put diplomatically, the film runs about half an hour longer than it should. I appreciate that it’s hard to lower the axe on a personal project like this, but two-and-a-half hours is just too much. Apart from the runtime, there are some adult themes and a bit more cussing than is appropriate for kids. Teens, on the other hand, especially those with a passion for film, will probably have a wonderful time with the movie. Provided, of course, they have an attention span that can stretch for the better part of three hours.
Spielberg’s movies were so influential to my early experience with film and to moviegoers for over five decades. How could you possibly compete with a filmography that includes E.T., Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws? His films are an incredible part of our cultural cinematic lexicon, and are part of the reason I love the medium so much. With a record like that, I guess I can get off his back if he wants to make his most personal movie a bit too long. Maybe. For a minute.
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano. Running time: 151 minutes. Theatrical release November 23, 2022. Updated November 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for The Fabelmans
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Fabelmans rated PG-13? The Fabelmans is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, thematic elements, brief violence and drug use.
Violence: A parent strikes their child. A woman dies in hospital of old age. Several characters are punched or beaten. Individuals pretend to be shot and killed on a film set.
Sexual Content: There are references to adultery. A teenage couple is seen kissing passionately.
Profanity: There are 12 uses of scatological profanity and a single sexual expletive. There are repeated uses of terms of deity and occasional mild profanities. Racial slurs are heard.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially and smoking tobacco. A teenager is briefly seen smoking marijuana.
Page last updated November 24, 2022
The Fabelmans Parents' Guide
How have movies changed since the time of Cecil B. DeMille? How influential has Steven Spielberg been in making that change? Have any of his films personally influenced you?
Wikipedia: Steven Spielberg Filmography