What do you do when the kids leave home and it’s just you or you and your mate? TV shows have some specific stereotypes. Take Monica and Chandler’s parents on Friends or Jerry Seinfeld’s mom and dad on Seinfeld for instance. They get a little frisky, but mostly live to meddle in their children’s lives. What does Hollywood have to offer those of us recent empty nesters? Often, more of the same. Occasionally, there are some movies that let parents become couples again. I’ve included movies of both types because while nosy parents are a predictable stereotype, they can be funny The following list of movies are available on DVD and streaming services.
Failure to Launch – Starring Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw and a cast of many other talented actors. Tired of their son’s failure to move out and live on his own, Bates and Bradshaw hire Parker to help them become empty nesters with hilarious and touching results. It’s one of my favorites McConaughey films and Bradshaw and Bates are perfectly in sync.
Hope Springs – starring Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Steve Carell. Recent empty nesters Jones and Streep struggle to rekindle the passion of their marriage and seek help from a renowned marriage counselor flawlessly played by Steve Carell. It’s funny and touching and has nothing to do with kids moving in or out. Probably the best empty nester film I’ve seen.
Meet the Parents – starring Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner. De Niro and Danner are probably the funniest empty nesters ever. Most people don’t count this as an empty nester film, but think I do.
Meet the Fockers – starring Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. America’s funniest empty nesters have met their match with Hoffman and Streisand. A hilarious look at how grown-ups behave and misbehave when the kids have left home. An interesting element of this movie is the question of whether kids have the right to expect their parents to “act their age.”
Because I Said So – starring Diane Keaton, Lauren Graham, Mandy Moore, and Piper Perabo. Empty nester Keaton meddles in the love lives of her three grown daughters. There are some funny moments and I wanted to like this movie, but struggled to watch to the end.
Prime – Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep. This film has talented actors and an interesting plot. Meryl Streep, a therapist, advises one of her patients, a mid-thirties career obsessed Uma Thurman to pursue a relationship with a younger man only to discover the young man is her (Streep’s) son. Even therapists have trouble controlling their inner momma bear when their child is involved.
Christmas with the Kranks starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen. I know it’s August, but Curtis is watchable any time of the year. How do you deal with the first Christmas without your child/children? The Kranks think they have it all figured out, but when their daughter decides to come home, the plans go out the window in funny and endearing ways.