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Heartburn Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

'80s comedy-drama has mature themes, profanity.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Heartburn is a 1986 comedy-drama written by Nora Ephron that chronicles the collapse of a failed marriage due to a husband's extramarital affairs. Affairs and cheating are frequently discussed. There's a scene in which a nanny and a little girl are in a living room playing "Indians" that is culturally insensitive by today's standards. There is some profanity throughout, including "f--k," and a scene in which a gun-wielding robber (played by a young Kevin Spacey) enters a group therapy session and holds a gun to the lead character's head. Characters drink and smoke.

  • Families can talk about the movie's themes. How are marriage, love, infidelity, motherhood, and the work/life balance explored throughout this movie?
  • The screenplay was written by Nora Ephron and is based on her book of the same title, inspired by her marriage to Carl Bernstein, one of the two Washington Post journalists best known for uncovering the Watergate scandal. What do you see as the challenges in creating movies or books rooted in autobiography? How would this movie be different if it were told from the husband's viewpoint?
  • This movie came out in 1986. If it were to be remade in contemporary times, what aspects do you think would be done differently? What would remain the same?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The lead character shows endurance and resilience in the immediate aftermath of her failed marriage. There's a scene in which a nanny and a little girl are in a living room playing "Indians" that is culturally insensitive by today's standards.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Rachel Samstat is an independent woman doing her best to balance the demands of a successful writing career with the challenges of motherhood and marriage. When her marriage begins to fall apart, she displays resiliency and even a sense of optimism as she begins picking up the pieces.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A gun-wielding robber enters a group therapy session and robs everyone in the room. He puts a gun to the head of the lead character.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Adultery is a major theme. Affairs and cheating are frequently discussed.

  • language false3

    Language: "F--k," "s--t," "dyke."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink cocktails, wine, champagne, and beer at wedding receptions, parties, and barbecues. Characters smoke cigarettes and cigars.

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