“Tully” is Apparently Controversial

Tully Movie Poster4star 2“Mom, what’s wrong with your body?”

Tully is causing an uproar in the mommy blogosphere, and the backlash has left me surprised.

This film reunites director Jason Reitman, writer Diablo Cody and star Charlize Theron, all of whom previously collaborated on one of my personal favorites – Young Adult (2011).

Maybe it’s because I knew what I was getting into and foresaw this not being a cookie-cutter comedy but instead a movie with some deep-rooted depth that wouldn’t please everyone…clearly. Apparently, general audiences saw Tully as being pitched as a realistic and relatable experience to being a mom, which (I agree) it was. But, expectations weren’t met leaving viewers (moms) disappointed and even angry with how the movie unravels. I’m trying really hard not to roll my eyes while I write this.

After reading about the backlash, I decided to dig a little deeper to see what all the fuss was about. As someone who isn’t a mother, I can’t speak for other moms, but I can speak on how the movie affected me personally.

No Spoilers

Tully Movie 2018 gif

First and foremost, Tully starts an important conversation about motherhood and mental health…the latter which is rarely covered on screen or even spoken about.

The movie follows a mother (Charlize Theron) of three who hires a night nanny (Mackenzie Davis) to help with her newborn daughter.

Tully Movie 2018

“The film’s trailer marketed it as an emotion-packed comedy for moms. When I read about the plot twist, I felt misled. If a movie deals with mental health issues, I think the marketing should reflect the real content. These are women interested in fun and a stress-free night out, some of whom are even struggling with actual postpartum depression…I feel betrayed by the makers of Tully. I feel slighted.” Mother and writer Sarah Whitman via The Mighty.

Apparently, this woman has never ever been misled by a marketing campaign nor a movie’s trailer, which, by the way, didn’t come across as anything comedic to me.

“I believe that screenwriter Diablo Cody, director Jason Reitman, and lead actress Charlize Theron owe an apology to every survivor of maternal mental illness,” writes blogger Graeme Seabrook in a post titled “Why I won’t see Tully and why you should think twice before you do,” on a motherhood-centric website called All the Moms.

Tully 2018

The main gripe surrounding these moms is not so much that the film misleads, but the fact that the film fails to acknowledge the mental health issues explicitly or “depict the character seeking treatment.” Because, in a perfect world, everyone has the ability and cash flow to seek treatment, right?

I understand their qualms. I do. I get it. But, what they’re failing to realize is that the movie actually raises awareness about maternal mental illness that no other film has really approached headfirst. It shows the side of motherhood that most people fail to acknowledge in movies (and in real life) that it’s really difficult. This movie has stirred up a debate to start talking about this under-discussed topic, and I think that’s a good thing.

Tully 2018

Tully’s screenwriter, Diablo Cody, told the New York Times the movie was supposed to make you uncomfortable. “The movie is actually about her lack of treatment,” she said, “Marlo doesn’t get that comfort in this film.”

If this movie was supposed to make audiences uncomfortable, it succeeded. Charlize Theron delivers another remarkable performance and carries the film from start to finish. She actually gained 50 damn pounds just to make the character more realistic and to fully understand what she was going through not just mentally but physically.

Maybe my opinion isn’t entirely valid since I’ve never experienced motherhood, but I’m still going to applaud the movie for starting an important debate and raising awareness on maternal mental illness that no other movie of recent has.

Tully 2018 Movie Gif

32 thoughts on ““Tully” is Apparently Controversial”

  1. I haven’t seen Tully yet, but nice review! I find it somewhat contradictory when people only want their experiences told on-screen in the exact ways they want it. Stereotypical characters are tiring, as is marketing misdirection, but it seems like some unaware critics, in an effort to say that they are more than this movie, are also bashing those with postpartum depression who disassociate/don’t run support groups/haven’t been able to get help for their PPD/etc. I think people sometimes forget that the way they internalize a movie is not the same way everyone else will, and the women who sees themselves on-screen (either they’re mothers or not) through Tully shouldn’t be dismissed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. Very well said, Katy! Some of these mom bloggers are just so unapologetically offended…I just don’t know what to think about that, but you’re totally right.

  2. I haven’t seen this yet but I really want to as I love Charlize Theron and her collaboration with Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody. I think it’s meant to be realistic and all of these mommies going ape-shit about it are just in denial of what really goes on. Great review, as usual.

  3. I was complaining about this on Twitter the other day. I meant to see Tully on Monday, but my plans fell through. The amount of words being written about a film no one has scene yet baffles me. It reminds me of the way Obvious Child was treated. How can you know how terribly a film handles something if you haven’t seen it or read the script? I’m kind of annoyed I got the ending spoiled for me because I read one of these think pieces, but I’m interested to form an opinion myself…you know, by actually watching the film. lol

    1. Oh, I had no idea people were complaining without even seeing it…that’s even worse than what I thought! And YES! Very comparable to Obvious Child backlash…

  4. I’m right there with you Courtney, if some people didn’t enjoy the film or feel a better story could be made about the subject matter then that’s fair enough but I recently reviewed Tully and really enjoyed it. It caps off another impressive collaboration between Theron, Reitman and Cody whom I keen to see reunite again and again.

  5. I wouldn’t say that the movie “offended” me, but I did find the “gotcha!” twist a little insulting to those who have suffered with depression. (Full disclosure: I am not a mommy).

  6. I’m gonna go ahead and agree that this was false marketing. Young Adult was also marketed as comedy which also backfired. Why is that studio doing that? These films were both marketed as comedy and they aren’t. It’s just a stupid thing to do and it backfires leaving the audience so angry they fail to see the merits of the film. He in Poland the posted have gigantic writing ‘comedy for moms!’ on it. So yeah they did lie. These online comments are ridiculous but the marketing was definitely false.

    1. Yikes…I didn’t see the “comedy for moms” piece anywhere…but I’m usually oblivious. I guess because I knew what I was getting into that i knew it wouldn’t be a comedy. I’m not quite sure what their marketing team was smoking when they created what they did, but shame on them. You’re right about the audience failing to see the merits of the film…that’s a damn shame.

  7. I love that you delved into this on this level. Personally, I didn’t like the film at all. It was weirdly done, and very depressing – the few sarcastic comedic moments aside. I did however, like Theron’s performance and am a fan of Mackenzie Davis – but there were moments that just either went really wrong, or were so close to going wrong, I almost didn’t want to watch. I did ask people at my screening afterwards who had clapped at the ending, why they had liked it as you know, I always think it just might be me or something I missed..they really didn’t have a reason and this is really one of the first reviews to delve into that question that I had. Thanks for that!

  8. Whaaat? People (moms) are offended by this movie? Man, people are so annoying. And so offended over anything. The review quoted above about these women “wanting a stress-free night out” was especially stupid. If they want that, they can find some braindead romcom to go to. I only saw one trailer but definitely didn’t get a “stress-free comedy” vibe from it. And maybe that one reviewer wants that but not everyone does. Ugh. 🙄 She certainly doesn’t speak for me as a mother! I appreciated that this movie felt real. I want more like it. 🙂

  9. Okay, wow.

    “I believe that screenwriter Diablo Cody, director Jason Reitman, and lead actress Charlize Theron owe an apology to every survivor of maternal mental illness,” in a post titled “Why I won’t see Tully and why you should think twice before you do.”

    I read that post and it is easily the most moronic thing I have ever read. How can people assume that they didn’t consult with mental health professionals? You said it in your review, this was about Marlo not being able to seek treatment, which is a massive issue. She was broke. Mental health is absurdly under-treated and expensive, and this film reflects that reality perfectly. These people complaining must not understand subtlety.

    And anyone complaining about a movie obviously has issues themselves. A negative review is one thing, but that post was written by someone who clearly needs to look in the mirror.

    Great review. I agree with almost all of it. There were a few scenes I could have done without though!! ;P

  10. Great write-up. I guess I have been under a rock with this movie. Didn’t realize there had been controversy. It has me even more intrigued now.

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