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51 Birch Street Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The film has a compelling way about it. All five of the immediate Block family members emerge in full and affecting portraits.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times

    What makes 51 Birch Street a moving revelation rather than a therapeutic exercise is Block's commitment to understanding his parents, Mike and Mina, on their own terms, regardless of what it does to his image of them.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    A warm and honest portrait of a marriage at its most mysterious, and ordinary.

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  • See all 51 Birch Street reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Absorbing docu on family secrets. See with teens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary is about the filmmaker Doug's parents. His mother dies suddenly and Doug and his two sisters -- adults over 40 -- talk frankly about how they're handling the loss and what they think of their father remarrying three months after her death. Doug reads his mother's diaries and learns about her near-constant unhappiness in the marriage and obsession with her therapist. The possibility of infidelity on both sides is discussed at length. Doug's mother admits to smoking pot while visiting one child at college. There's also a mention of the sexual revolution and what some suburban couples were doing at the time (exchanges, etc.).

  • Families can talk about quite a bit in this movie. Parents can talk with teens about how this documentary looks at marriage and commitment -- in a way you never see portrayed in films and on TV. (It may serve as an antidote to some shows like MTV's Engaged and Underage.) They can also talk about how Doug's relationship with his father developed through the course of the documentary -- how is it stronger now? If your parents had diaries, would you read them if you could? Do you think Doug made the right decision?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Not an issue

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not an issue

  • sex false3

    Sex: Infidelity is discussed at length, as well as Doug's mother's obsession with her therapist -- many highlighted journal entries discuss longing and unfulfillment. A mention of partner swapping and "handsies" at a drive-in.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Doug's mother discusses smoking pot while visiting her child at college.