Story

In Ricki and the Flash, Ricki (Meryl Streep) is a middle-aged woman who left her family many years previously to become a rock star. Her daughter Julie’s (Mamie Gummer) marriage ends badly, and her ex-husband, Pete, asks Ricki to come home to help her daughter grieve. When she gets home, Ricki discovers that her children hate her for leaving and no longer want her involved in their lives. The members of Ricki’s family must come to terms with the lives they’ve chosen, and learn to forgive and accept each other. 

Themes

Mental illness and suicide; family relationships and breakdown; drugs; sexual identity; financial hardship

Violence

Ricki and the Flash shows some heated arguments, particularly between family members.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Ricki and the Flash has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Julie tries to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills. This isn’t shown, but the characters talk about the suicide attempt. Julie is struggling a lot – she walks around in her pyjamas and messy hair, and her father mentions that she doesn’t eat. Julie’s struggle might be confronting and disturbing for children.
  • There are several heated arguments among the characters, which might be scary for children.
  • Ricki mentions that her brother died in the army.
  • Ricki’s band plays loud rock music, which might frighten young children.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be affected by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to be affected by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might be concerned by Julie’s suicide attempt.

Sexual references

Ricki and the Flash has some sexual references and innuendo. For example:

  • Some of the songs that Ricki sings include sexual references.
  • Many of the characters have had sexual affairs with other people.
  • Ricki’s son Adam declares that he is gay and likes men.
  • Ricki talks about her pubic hair going grey.
  • Ricki asks Pete if he wants to touch her.
  • One of the characters talks about having sex with a stripper.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Ricki and the Flash shows some use of substances. For example:

  • The movie features frequent drinking. Ricki plays music in a bar where people are drinking. Julie drinks to cope with her divorce, and Ricki drinks to cope with her problems. 
  • Ricki, Julie and Pete smoke pot together and get high. 
  • Julie tries to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills. 
  • Julie’s therapist has given her drugs to take to help her get better.

Nudity and sexual activity

Ricki and the Flash shows some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Ricki and Greg are shown heavily kissing and taking off their clothes. The scene suggests they’re about to have sex. The next morning they’re shown in bed together.
  • Ricki is shown in nothing but a towel.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Ricki and the Flash:

  • Jet Blue airlines
  • Sony
  • Gibson Guitars.

Coarse language

Ricki and the Flash has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Ricki and the Flash is an entertaining although clichéd movie about the difficulties of family life and relationships. Meryl Streep is wonderful as the unconventional rock star mother who learns that if you work hard you can go some way towards fixing your mistakes. 

You might be concerned about references to drugs, suicide and sex. The movie’s coarse language also seems quite strong for a PG rating. For these reasons, we don’t recommend this movie for children aged under 12 years, and we do recommend parental guidance for children aged 12-15 years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include forgiveness and acceptance.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about mental health and suicide, and the importance of seeking help if you’re struggling.