The Guide to the Perfect Family Parent Guide
This film isn't trying to show a perfect family...just a real one facing serious problems.
Parent Movie Review
Anxiety is contagious and Martin (Louis Morisette) and Marie-Soleil Dubois (Catherine Chabot) are doing their darnedest to share it with the whole family. Determined to launch successful children, they spend their days driving 16 year old Rose (Emilie Bierre) to private school, hockey practice, and dance rehearsal, while also chasing around after five year old Mathis (Xavier Lebel). Martin obsesses over Rose’s grades – “Grade 11 is the most important year”, he reminds her, fearful that she’ll falter on the path to med school. And Marie-Soleil fixates on keto diets, social media posts, and her son’s bowel movements, while completely ignoring his obnoxious behavior.
What everyone fails to notice is that Martin’s life script for his firstborn “pride and joy” is literally making her sick.
When Martin gets called into the principal’s office and learns that Rose has been cheating on her exams and self-medicating her anxiety with pot, he’s forced to re-examine his life, his perceptions of his nearest and dearest, and his definition of success.
Credit goes to the movie’s screenwriters for not providing quick and easy resolutions to all of the challenges facing the Dubois family. Like most parents, Martin sometimes gets it right but at other times, he gets things disastrously wrong. This film isn’t trying to show a perfect parent…just a real one.
Speaking of perfection, The Guide to the Perfect Family doesn’t hit that high bar and has some less-than-ideal aspects. Perhaps its most notable challenge is the script’s delay in settling on a primary narrative. Parts of the film seem to be pushing the storyline into a critique of social media or an examination of male entitlement in marriage or the challenges of balancing work and family life. But the heart of the movie is the relationship between Martin and Rose and the production would be more successful if the primacy of this plot line were clearer from the beginning. It’s a strong story with truly outstanding acting. Catherine Chabot sometimes teeters on the edge of caricature as Marie-Soleil, but Louis Morisette and Emilie Bierre bring a bone-deep authenticity to their roles and successfully ground the film.
It’s unlikely that this movie is going to find a wide viewership. Set in Quebec, the film is in French, which limits its audience to those willing to read subtitles or listen to an English dub track (which isn’t as good as the subtitles). In addition, it has enough negative content to deter people who object to the 40 profanities or the frequent use of alcohol. The real kicker for many viewers will be the sexual content. Martin and Marie-Soleil seem unaware that locking bedroom doors is an option, and their amorous evening interludes are twice interrupted by their son, who discovers his mother’s vibrator under the sheets (“Mama’s magic wand”).
While the film has an unfortunate amount of negative content, it’s not a dead loss. Most parents will relate to Martin as he tries to let go of the life plan he has imposed on his daughter; as he tries to see her for who she is and not the all-star achiever he has projected on to her. That is an almost universal struggle for parents, and it can be heartening to watch someone else do the work we all need to do.Directed by Ricardo Trogi. Starring Emilie Bierre, Louis Morissette. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release July 14, 2021. Updated July 14, 2021
Watch the trailer for The Guide to the Perfect Family
The Guide to the Perfect Family
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Guide to the Perfect Family rated TV-MA? The Guide to the Perfect Family is rated TV-MA by the MPAA for language
Violence: A child throws food in the kitchen. A child throws food at someone’s groin. A man throws a toy out a window. A man reminisces about being hit by his parents when he was a child. Family members shout at each other. A child cries when a paper ball is thrown at her. An attempted suicide occurs off-screen.
Sexual Content: After failing to interest her husband in sex, a woman uses a vibrator to get his interest; the content of the subsequent activity is not explicit and the scene is dimly lit but their child walks in on them. A child steps on his father’s groin twice. A toddler removes his diaper and is briefly seen from the side running around naked. A woman nurses her preschooler (he’s under her shirt). A mother asks her teenage daughter if she’s slept with her boyfriend. A drunken adult heads off for an implied sexual encounter with another adult.
Profanity: There are over 40 profanities in the movie, including 18 scatological curses, 10 terms of deity, 10 sexual expletives, a handful of minor swear words. There are also several anatomical terms, including slang terms for male genitalia.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An adult takes prescription drugs for stomach acid. Adults drink wine with dinner and in other social settings. Marijuana edibles are found in a teenager’s lockers as are prescription drugs. A teenager is trading drugs for exams. A teenager talks about being stoned as a way to escape from stress. Adults drink beer while on a break from renovations. Adults debate the appropriateness of teen drug use. A teen steals anti-anxiety drugs from a parent. A man talks about his son’s frequent drug use. There’s a discussion about using prescription medications to manage ADD. A teenager appears to be inebriated. A teen drinks alcohol from the bottle and gets drunk. A person overdoses on pills and almost dies.
Page last updated July 14, 2021
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