Ode to Joy

MPAA Rating:
97 mins
Martin Freeman, Morena Baccarin, Jake Lacy, Jane Curtin
Jason Winer
Jason Winer, Pamela Thur, Alissa Shipp

Content at a Glance


several couples initiate sexual advances but never have sex; reference to handjob, masturbation. woman comes on to charlie but he won’t have sex with her because he doesn’t love her.


occasional uses of f---, a--, h---, s---; god’s/jesus's name taken in vain multiple times.


brothers get in shoving match.


adults drink; character references getting drunk at a kids’ baseball game.


No Information


francesca’s mother is in chemotherapy.



The Dove Take:

While Ode to Joy puts an emphasis on intimacy (meaning more than sex) and shows various levels of personal integrity, its language keeps it from being Dove-Approved.

Movie Message

The Synopsis:

Based on a true story, Ode to Joy tells the story of Charlie, a quiet librarian suffering from cataplexy. Thanks to his disease, he passes out every time he experiences intense emotions—even when he meets his dream girl, Francesca.

The Review:

Charlie (Martin Freeman) has spent his entire life playing it cool, because whenever he “lets go,” his cataplexy knocks him unconscious. His brother Cooper (Jake Lacy), an elementary school teacher, runs interference for him and provides a safe haven for his need for calm. But when the two of them meet Francesca (Morena Baccarin), their world is thrown upside down.

While Francesca has an attraction to Charlie after he talks her through her latest breakup, he quickly turns her to his brother, recognizing that he feels passionately about her. Even though Charlie and Francesca have much in common, Francesca tries to fall for Cooper, who lacks Charlie’s empathy or people skills. [Cooper is significantly more interested in sex, the driving reason for him to date.]

Various sitcoms and rom-coms have tried to come up with new ways to keep their love interests apart, but the cataplexy illness proves to be a unique take on this. Freeman and Baccarin play excellently off of each other as the buttoned-down realist and the high-energy passionate one, providing moments that seem real … and laugh-out-loud funny.

Rather than make one or the other the ‘hero,’ Ode to Joy allows each of the characters to receive advice at the right time that could bring them together. The tension is in whether or not they can get there—while still appreciating their idiosyncrasies and holding on to their own identities in the process.

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