Grass Harp, The

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1

A lyrical film based on a short story by Truman Capote, THE GRASS HARP is set in the 1940s in a small southern town and shows people who discover how to love and change. After his mother's death and his father's subsequent suicide, young Collin Fenwick (Edward Furlong) is taken into the household of two relatives. Cold and proper Verena Talbo (Sissy Spacek) is the richest woman in town, while older sister Dolly (Piper Laurie), a nature lover and herbalist, is considered a bit balmy. When a tonic Dolly manufactures begins to earn significant royalties, Verena brings in entrepreneur Morris Ritz (Jack Lemmon) to help with the process. Dolly gets angry at the intrusion and moves into Collin's treehouse. This causes a scandal, involving the whole city in an hilarious squabble. In the end the family learns to accept each other's peculiarities and dreams. Audiences may be attracted to an excellent cast, which includes Walter Matthau as a retired judge who teaches Collin a great deal, along with Nell Carter as the Talbos' outspoken housemaid. THE GRASS HARP, from first-time director Charles Matthau (Walter Matthau's son), offers an interesting peek at families of the past and what caused scandal, as compared with the moral climate of today.

The theme of the movies is commendable, and its language is fairly decent, with only a few mild crude words. The biggest shortcoming, however, is in the portrayal of two Christians. Mary Steenburgen plays a traveling evangelist with questionable intentions. She has had 13 children by different men and seems quite risqu with her short skirts and smoking. The character is also simple-minded about Christian concepts and unenlightened on scripture. Charles Durning plays the stuffed-shirt local preacher who is in conflict with Steenburgen. He is portrayed as a stereotypically narrow-minded Christian. THE GRASS HARP has a positive message, but a demeaning slant towards its Christian characters is offensive and again displays Hollywood's anti-Christian bias.

Preview Reviewer: Theresa Zumwalt
Fine Line Features, 888 7th Ave., 20th Flr., New York, NY 10106

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (3) times - Mild

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Few times - Moderate (childish fist fight, rock-throwing battle, boy accidentally shot in shoulder)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Boys buys condoms, woman wears short skirts

Drugs: Alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking

Other: Father's suicide discussed, unsympathetic portrayal of Christians

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Pre-teens to adults

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