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The Other Sister Review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 2.0

    out of 100

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

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Still, there's no mistaking the central message: Slow people have much to teach us. Or is it: Slow people -- aren't they funny? Either way, it's pretty vile stuff.

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  • 25

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Shameless in its use of mental retardation as a gimmick, a prop and a plot device. Anyone with any knowledge of retardation is likely to find the film offensive.

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  • 38

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Two agonizing hours of lifeless, mind-numbing hogwash.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    Consider The Other Sister emotional quicksand. [26 February 1999, Life, p.5E]

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Mark Caro

    Falls into a familiar trap, resembling a neatly wrapped made-for-TV homily. [26 February 1999, Friday, p.A]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Overly sentimental movie is unlikely to interest teens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film explores the challenges that a family faces when their developmentally-disabled daughter fights for independence and reacts to her own growing sexuality. The filmmakers take great care to introduce the young lovers (both of whom are mentally impaired) to sex in a mature and sensitive way. There is some kissing and they begin to undress, but with no actual nudity or foreplay. Language includes some terms associated with the human reproductive system. "Doing it" is the only way sexual intercourse is described. A young woman is seen in bed with her female sexual partner, and their lesbianism provides a separate challenge to some members of the family. There is alcohol consumption in social settings, and the young male lead purposefully gets drunk on two occasions and misbehaves.

  • Families can talk about some of the different ways people react to Carla's disabilities. Discuss specific family members as well as outsiders.
  • Daniel seems to have almost no family support system. What resources did he use to make a surrogate family? What does that reveal about Daniel's ability to live on his own?
  • How did Elizabeth (Carla's mother) change over the course of the movie? How did what she learned from Carla help her be a better mother to Heather? 
  • How accepting and tolerant do you think people are when they come across others who have disabilities or special needs? Do you think this movie depicted the general public accurately? Do you believe everyone at Caroline's wedding would have laughed at Daniel's speech? Think about how you would have reacted.

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: People with differences and/or disabilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Loving someone asks that you give them the freedom to be their best selves. Likewise, good parenting requires that you love your children as they are, not as how you would like them to be.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Mentally-challenged young adults sometimes have assets and resources that may be unexpected. Given a chance to grow and flourish, some special-needs people are able to function independently and live safely. Teachers, employers, and co-workers are portrayed as supportive, helpful, and caring.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A child, upset by a group of other children who are teasing her, pushes one of them down a flight of carpeted stairs. He is not injured.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The issue of mentally-challenged young people engaging in sexual activity is a main story element. The two people involved read and study The Joy of Sex to educate themselves. "Doing it" is a repeated euphemism for intercourse. The couple kisses, undresses to their underwear, and moves off camera to make love. Another character is involved in a monogamous lesbian relationship, the acceptance of which by her family is another plot point.

  • language false1

    Language: Though there is no swearing or harsh language, sexual terms are used on a few occasions: "penis," "semen," "sperm," "vulva," ""doing it.""

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Coca-Cola.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some social drinking: dinner table, wedding. One main character gets drunk on two occasions and his outrageous behavior affects the story's outcome. Another character is identified as a recovering alcoholic.