What’s Love Got to Do With It? Parent Guide
This is a fabulous film, with a story that's rich, warm, and full of heart.
Parent Movie Review
Zoe (Lily James) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, who is under pressure to come up with another project. Her distributors insist on a switch from her gritty explorations of social ills, requesting instead a cheerful, character-driven story. Luckily for Zoe, she’s got the perfect solution right next door.
Zoe and her mother, Cath (Emma Thompson) have always been close with the neighboring Khan family. The Khans are from Pakistan but their children were born in England and Zoe is friends with all of them – especially Kazim (Shazad Latif). The self-assured, handsome physician is ready to settle down and has decided to let his parents work with a matchmaker to find him a wife – one who’s “English enough” for him and “Pakistani enough” for them. Zoe persuades Kaz to let her film the entire process, giving her a bird’s eye view on the unfolding relationship between Kaz and Maymouna (Sajal Ali).
Romantic comedies are a difficult genre to get right. Writers often fall into lazy cliches and trite plot devices as they wander down the oh-so-familiar path to “happily ever after”. Not in this film. What’s Love Got to Do with It? is one of the best romantic comedies I’ve seen in years. The story is rich, warm, and full of heart. The writing is crisp, with jokes that land, and excellent pacing. From a critic’s perspective, it’s a minor miracle to watch a rom-com take surprising plot directions that left me guessing – I was never entirely certain where this story was going to end up. Main characters are complex, exasperating, fallible, and appealing and even secondary characters are given traits that make them stand out from the crowd. Critically, the multicultural aspect of the film is handled with an all-embracing affection – the Khan family’s commitment to Islam is never questioned and their beliefs around faith and family are treated with respect. Neither culture’s convictions are denigrated but are examined with open-minded curiosity that explores the good and bad found in each.
Not only does this movie tell a great story and tell it well; it packs it full of positive themes. At its core is the power of family ties; our need to belong to our families and cultures. The script examines the tension between cultural belonging and personal independence, the challenges faced by immigrant parents, and the immense benefits of forgiveness and reconciliation. On a more personal level, it shows characters who undergo painful self-assessment, reconsider their goals, and face the pain of being honest with themselves.
The only downside here is the movie’s negative content, primarily substance use. Alcohol features in many scenes with Cath frequently over-imbibing and Zoe getting decidedly tipsy on occasion. More troubling is a scene where Zoe decides to numb her feelings and goes to a club where she winds up drunk (or possibly stoned) and has a one-night stand, which she immediately regrets. In another party scene, a large number of people smoke marijuana and drink Coca-Cola laced with a stimulant. When you add in some sexual innuendo, and a sexual expletive, this isn’t a movie to watch with the kids.
That said, if you want to watch a story where people face love, joy, pain, self-inflicted wounds, confusion, forgiveness, and grace, will find much to love in What’s Love Got to Do with It? Best of all, you’ll get to enjoy the charming story and capable cast against the backdrop of a vibrant, colorful, and exciting Pakistani wedding. This is a movie that is guaranteed to have you laughing out loud in your seat and smiling as you leave the theater. It doesn’t get better than that.
Directed by Shekhar Kapur. Starring Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Lily James. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release May 19, 2023. Updated May 19, 2023
Watch the trailer for What’s Love Got to Do With It?
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Rating & Content Info
Why is What’s Love Got to Do With It? rated PG-13? What’s Love Got to Do With It? is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong language including a sexual reference, some suggestive material and brief drug material.
Violence: None noted.
Sexual Content: An adulterous affair is mentioned. There are scenes of passionate kissing between a man and woman. When a woman is Sex is implied but not seen: the morning after the man is seen bare-chested and wrapped in a towel, and the woman is shown sitting up in bed with a bare back. There is a brief, non-explicit discussion of sexual compatibility. There is brief mention of unusual sexual practices, with no detail. There is very occasional, brief sexual innuendo.
Profanity: The script contains just over a dozen profanities, with a single sexual expletive, seven terms of deity, and five scatological curses. A crude slang term for male genitals is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character is seen smoking cigarettes: it’s mentioned that he smokes regularly. Alcohol is frequently consumed at social functions and main characters drink while alone or to cope with stress or disappointment. One character is clearly hungover and another is mildly intoxicated. It’s implied that a character uses drugs to become numb. At a party, large numbers of guests smoke marijuana or drink Coca-Cola spiked with a stimulant.
Page last updated May 19, 2023
What’s Love Got to Do With It? Parents' Guide
Why does Kazim agree to have an arranged marriage? What role does his sister’s marriage play in his decision? What warning flags does he see? How does he respond to them?
Kazim asks Lily if it’s less painful to aim low. What does he mean by that? Do you think it’s an accurate assessment of Lily’s relationship problems? How does she respond to his question?
What do you think of arranged or assisted marriages? Do you think they provide a “happy medium” between forced marriage or endless choice? What is your culture’s perspective on marriage and finding suitable partners? What do you believe?
Related home video titles:
At the turn of the century, a Jewish family in czarist Russia grapples with issues of faith, family, arranged marriages, and cultural preservation in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.
Yesterday stars Lily James as the overlooked best friend of an English/South Asian musician who restores the Beatles’ catalog to a world where it never existed.
In Blinded by the Light, a British Pakistani teenager battles with his traditional father. Javed wants to study English and date an English girl while his father wants him to pursue a professional career and have an arranged marriage.
For a zany take on a Pakistani wedding, you can watch Polite Society. This film features a sinister plot and madcap action, mixed with martial arts and plenty of humor.
If it’s brightly colored Indian weddings that you enjoy, you can watch Wedding Season or Bride & Prejudice.