One of my top 3 movies of my childhood was ‘Now and Then.’ This classic coming-of-age story shows what life would have been like during an eventful summer for four 12-year-old girls in a small town during the 1970’s. Recently, my tween daughter and I decided to watch it together. I couldn’t have been happier to travel back in time with the memorable soundtrack and my favorite characters. Featured today on Enjoying Family Life, check out 3 lessons tweens can learn from ‘Now and Then,’ and read whether it’s an appropriate movie for tweens to watch.
Good friendships stand the test of time.
‘Now and Then’ follows four friends who live in a small planned community. When they grow up and return to see one another, their friendship is as strong as ever. Even though their career paths and family choices have led them to live across the country from one another, reuniting with one another gives them support and purpose.
The example set by the girls in the movie gives tweens a friendship goal to aspire to in their own lives. Friendship means showing up even when it isn’t easy, which is a valuable lesson in selflessness.
Turn off your screens, and make some memories.
Watching a movie that takes place in the 1970’s satisfies an interest in learning what life was like before there were screens to use all day. Lately, my tween has been fascinated by the lives my husband and I lived long ago. She wants to know what the clothing style was like, the games we played, and how we spent our time. As she watched the movie, I could see that she liked the concept of a screen-free summer in suburbia. She wishes we lived in planned community where she could bike all day with friends!
The movie focuses on the girls trying to save up money to buy a tree house where they can spend their time away from everyone. They have fun playing neighborhood games that summer, but they also do chores, like painting the garage, to meet their goal. Reaching towards a common goal and putting in the work to make it happen strengthens their friendship, and it all happens without one screen.
Don’t judge those you don’t know.
Acceptance is another theme in the movie. Within the group, the girls learn not to judge one another for their differences. Samantha has parents going through a divorce. Teeny’s parents are never around much. Roberta is raised by her father after her mother passed away, and she doesn’t care much about the typical girl things. Chrissy never seems to grasp more mature things the way the other girls do. Over this one summer, they all figure out that they accept one another as well as themselves.
They also learn that Crazy Pete, a strange man in town who only comes out at night, has more to his story than they realized. He never accepted himself for something that happened earlier in his life, but in time, these girls learn to accept him.
Is ‘Now and Then’ appropriate for tweens?
When I was researching movies to watch with tweens for our mom-and-me exclusive movie night together, I read my three free articles on Common Sense media, and then I wasn’t able to access the reviews on ‘Now and Then.’ So I figured I would rent it and learn from trial and error whether it was too shocking. Although the movie is about 12-year-old children, movies made in the 1990’s had more of a shock value that you might want to be aware of before watching.
The PG-13 rating is a good fit. There are references to puberty and specific anatomy of boys and girls. One girl tapes her bra down to flatten her chest, while another girl puts balloons filled with pudding in hers. At one point, the girls see the neighborhood boys playing in the creek without wearing any clothes.
One girl doesn’t understand the facts of life. When she asks her mom, she receives a comparison to a garden and a garden hose. Later, her friends laugh at her over this idea.
Overall, there are themes of defiance that typically lead the girls into trouble. One girl crawls into a water drain and almost drowns. The girls sneak out to visit a graveyard, and they bike to a far away town. Most of them try smoking when they meet a stranger. Also, cussing happens throughout the movie.
Death is another central topic. One of the girl’s mothers died in a tragic car accident, which is described in detail. The girls also go on a search for information about the death of a boy who was their age.
If you are prepared to have a conversation with your tween about these topics, the movie may be appropriate for you to watch with them. As a parent, it matters that you don’t avoid all topics that make you uncomfortable. Having open discussions matters. Situations in the movie can be a reference point for discussions you might have wanted to have anyways. However, take a clue from how your tween reacts to the movie if they seem uncomfortable and want to turn it off due to the content.
Which ‘Now and Then’ character are you?
In my childhood, I imaged myself as Samantha, who is a strong character and a good friend, and later when she grows up, she becomes a creative and interesting writer. Even my husband randomly remarked when he walked in the room that my childhood photos looked similar to the Samantha character. My daughter couldn’t believe this since that’s her name. She was interested in the idea that I was drawn to the name Samantha even before she was born. Watching the movie helped bring us closer together!
Which character do you imagine yourself as? Share in the comments below!