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A Little Help Review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

    Ultimately, the film is best appreciated as a welcome big-screen starring vehicle for Fischer, who expertly navigates the comedic and dramatic demands of a role that keeps her onscreen for virtually the entire running time.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    A Little Help settles for familiar and modest payoffs. It's not much. Yet Fischer clearly relishes the chance to play someone who's a demurely reckless mess.

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  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Fischer's performance is sweet and subtle, but the film can be so understated in tone and plot that it's hard to tell if it's actually saying anything.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    It's manipulative, yes, but clever and persuasive in its manipulations.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

One strong performance in otherwise negative adult drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this indie drama (with comedy elements) about a troubled mom whose husband suddenly dies is filled with bad behavior and doesn't really have any positive role modeling. The main character's 12-year-old son spreads a huge lie, and she allows it. There's also a lot of arguing, sometimes between the mother and son. She drinks quite often -- sometimes vodka, but mostly beer (her beer of choice, Budweiser, is often displayed on screen) -- and there are hints that she has a drinking problem. She also smokes cigarettes, and a teen and a secondary adult character smoke pot. Language is strong, including "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," and "c--t." There's no nudity, but expect some implied/off-screen sex and sexual innuendo. Teen fans of star Jenna Fischer's TV show The Office may be interested, but despite the fact that there's a prominent preteen character, this one is geared for adults. 

  • Families can talk about the main character's drinking. Why does she drink? Is she an alcoholic? What message does the movie ultimately send about drinking? 
  • Are there any admirable characters here? If not, what makes them interesting? Are any of them working toward something positive?
  • How does the movie portray mother-son relationships? Does it seem believable/realistic?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: In a world where people are obsessed with work and money and no one is very admirable, the main character -- a sad dental hygienist/single mother -- is a perpetual doormat who tries to take out her sadness and frustration with various vices (drinking, cigarettes, smoking pot, and sex). She lies and treats her son fairly inappropriately, though viewers are asked to believe that she continues to learn and try.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The main character drinks and smokes too much, indulges in lies and bad behavior, speaks inappropriately to her son, flirts with infidelity, and allows her family to push her around. She's a perpetual victim, although she seems to keep trying. ...

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Lots of shouting and arguing between various adult family members, most notably between a mother and her 12-year-old son (they say "you suck" and "shut up" to each other). A character dies suddenly in iffy (though not graphic) circumstances.

  • sex false3

    Sex: In an early scene, the main character moves off screen to give her husband oral sex. Later, she goes on a date and has some terrible-looking sex on a couch, though there's no nudity. She's also seen kissing her brother-in-law. Some innuendo. A death is caused by heart strain brought on by sexual activity.

  • language false4

    Language: Strong but not constant language includes several uses of "f--k" and "t-ts," as well as "c--t," "s--t," "goddamn," "ass," "Jesus," "crap," "balls," "twat," "bitch," and "a--hole."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: The main character drinks a lot -- and it's always Budweiser beer. The brand is never mentioned aloud but is shown many times. She also drinks a Super Big Gulp and Absolut Vodka. Other brands include Skippy peanut butter and an Apple iBook computer.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A teen smokes pot in one scene. The main character drinks beer quite often (and vodka in one scene), but though there's some discussion of her "drinking problem," she's not shown to be an alcoholic. She also smokes cigarettes (and lies about them). A secondary character smokes pot in several scenes. Other characters are seen drinking lots of liquor at a funeral.