Do you ever feel like there’s something in your life that, as an adult, you really should do a little bit better?
Maybe you neglect to wash delicate clothing on a delicate cycle. Perhaps you frequently misplace important documents. Or instead of studying for a big exam, you decide to hang out with friends.
Yeah, we all tend to let things slide every now and then.
But not Jane.
Jane is focused. Jane is precise. Jane is the sort of person who’s always equipped for a crisis.
And that works out well for Corinne, who’s a bit of a crisis herself. The exact opposite of Jane, Corinne is disorganized, free spirited and yes, a bit chaotic. But she also has a big heart and imaginative mind. Which is why Jane loves her so much.
The two of them have been best friends since childhood, and they’re currently roommates, too. Corinne’s dragged Jane around, pushing her to try new things and meet new people. And Jane’s always kept Corinne a bit grounded, making sure that the bills get paid and the laundry gets folded.
So when Corinne gets the idea that Jane should use her hobby of baking cakes to get a date, Jane’s understandably hesitant. But hey, when it comes to adventures, Jane’s sort of the expert. And who knows? Maybe sitting in bars with cake won’t be weird.
About halfway through the ladies’ year-long “cake-barring” adventure, Corinne gets diagnosed with a life-threatening disease (which shouldn’t be a spoiler warning if you’ve seen the trailer for this movie). Recognizing that Corinne doesn’t want to give up her life and move back home with her parents, Jane selflessly volunteers to be Corinne’s caregiver.
However, this new, more intense role puts their friendship to the test. In her desire to see her best friend get well, Jane tightens the reins a bit too much. Corinne appreciates that Jane ensures she gets to her appointments on time and takes her medications as prescribed. But she also wishes that Jane would allow them to have a little more fun—especially since there’s a chance that Corinne won’t get better.
Sometimes, these differences cause arguments. But through every high and low, the women persevere. They own up to their mistakes, apologize and forgive each other.
We see how their friendship changes them both for the better. Corinne helps Jane to be more confident. And her own constant bravery eventually gives Jane the courage to tell her parents what she really wants to do with her life and to pursue her dreams. And while Jane’s influence certainly doesn’t make Corinne more organized, it does help her to focus on what really matters in life: her friends and her family.
Corinne’s parents are obviously frightened for her. At times, they try to control what sort of care she should receive and even blame themselves for her illness. But Corinne reminds them that they taught her how to take care of herself. And they eventually respect her decision to let Jane be her caregiver.
People are kind to Corinne when she becomes ill. They organize fundraisers and give her gifts. And while some of these actions are unwanted (Corinne feels that most people are just using her to feel better about themselves), at least a few folks try to genuinely show Corinne how much they care.
It’s never explicitly stated, but dialogue suggests that Jane believes in some sort of afterlife. She telling Corinne that no matter where she ends up in the universe, she’ll always love her. And there’s a joke about Corinne becoming a ghost.
When Corinne first gets diagnosed, one of her friends suggests a chakra cleanse or meridian realignment (both are healing treatments based in Eastern spirituality). We hear about someone’s bat mitzvah. Corinne says that Jane’s “going out” clothes remind her of church clothes.
Jane hasn’t been lucky in love, and Corinne hopes that their “cake-barring” adventure will help Jane to figure out what sort of person she would like to date (and get sexually involved with).
Jane’s first venture garners an unsolicited picture of a man’s genitals. Jane and Corinne laugh the incident off, and future endeavors result in dancing and public make-out sessions with other guys.
Eventually, Jane starts dating a guy from work and has sex with him. (It happens offscreen, but leading up to the act, they kiss and start to remove clothing before getting into bed.) Corinne’s parents get uncomfortable when they learn what cake-barring is, and they awkwardly remind Jane to use protection if she’s going to be having sex. Corinne’s boyfriend essentially lives with her and Jane.
Couples kiss. People dance at bars, sometimes sensually. A dance troupe wearing lingerie performs a provocative dance with sexually explicit props.
The young women go to a drag show, and the main performer is accompanied by two men dressed effeminately but not in drag. Someone gives Corinne a pride flag, and she’s seen waving it in another scene.
We see a few shirtless guys. (One such man pulls another wearing a robe in a sled on the beach, to onlookers confused amusement.) Many female characters wear revealing clothing. Jane and Corinne’s vast difference in undergarment choices is a repeated topic of discussion, and sometimes their bras can be spotted beneath their clothing. (We also see those garments in stores, in drawers and hanging up to dry.)
Jane initially protests wearing anything too tawdry, but she gives in at Corinne’s persistence. We see Corinne from the shoulders up in a bathtub. A woman wears a costume of a calculator with numbers spelling out a word for female anatomy.
Double entendres, especially as it pertains to food, and jokes about sex are fairly frequent in dialogue. A couple of people race to see who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue first.
Corinne is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. As a result, she endures agonizing headaches and several seizures throughout the film. In one scene, Jane tries to ease Corinne’s pain by dabbing her head with a damp cloth until enough time has passed for Corinne to take more pain medication. One night, Corinne wakes up struggling to breathe. And when she arrives at the hospital, she experiences amnesia. We see a scar on Corinne’s head where a biopsy was taken.
As Corinne’s illness progresses (and she begins a combination of chemotherapy and radiation), we see the uglier side of cancer. She loses her hair, becomes too weak to walk and is eventually put on oxygen.
As Corinne faces her diagnosis, she makes several jokes about death. A few people smash pottery in anger.
[Spoiler Warning] Corinne eventually passes away peacefully in her bed at home.
We hear a single use of the f-word and two uses of the s-word. We also hear a couple of uses each of “a–,” “a–hole,” “b–ch,” “d–k” and “h—.” God’s name is abused about 40 times, once paired with “d–n”; Jesus’ name is abused three times.
Cake-barring would be a thing without, you know, the bars. As such, many of the film’s scenes take place in bars, where people are drinking and smoking. Characters drink in other scenes, too.
Corinne’s mom purchases gummies laced with CBD and THC to help with Corinne’s pain while she’s sick. Jane bakes these into a cake at Corinne’s request, and the friends get high after eating it. Corinne says her boyfriend smokes marijuana. We hear about a CBD bubble bath. Jane notes that having people vape in Corinne’s face at bars can’t be good for her health.
Jane wants to be more outgoing and adventurous. But at times, her friends take advantage of this impulse and pressure her into situations where she’s uncomfortable. People often make Jane feel like an outcast with their actions and attitudes. A woman breaks up with her boyfriend because he seemingly ignores her. (He conveniently “forgets” many details, such as the time of her promotion party; and he often blows her off to hang out with his own friends.)
When Corinne rejects a guy at a bar, he responds angrily (and profanely). People lie. Jane admits to causing a fight between Corinne and her boyfriend.
A man picks his nose in public. A woman lists negative charactistics associated with a product, including animal testing, yeast infections and dry rash. Plus, she adds, it smells bad.
Sitting in Bars With Cake is a loving tribute from author Audrey Shulman (who wrote the screenplay for this film and the book it was based on) to her best friend, who sadly died from cancer.
Shulman’s story, as it’s represented here, is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. We see the ugly side of cancer. Corinne’s illness is long and difficult. And her decline from being a healthy young woman to death in less than a year is jarring, unexpected and tragic.
But as we watch her battle, Jane never gives up. Jane’s unwavering loyalty demonstrates the true meaning of friendship. And even as Corinne faces the end of her life, she continues to build Jane up, to encourage her to pursue her dreams and to live her own life to the fullest.
Families should note that the film has some content concerns that will make it a nonstarter for some, and certainly so for younger audiences. The film’s title should be a bit of a hint. Characters drink throughout the film. And at one point, Corinne and Jane get high off of edibles purchased by Corinne’s mom to help with the pain caused by her illness.
Additionally, the purpose of sitting in bars with cake is to attract men to date Jane. (And eventually, she engages in much more than just dating.) Innuendo plagues the film’s dialogue. Sex is a constant topic. And there are also a few LGBT characters.
Language is the last hurdle. We hear a single use of the f-word in addition to other profanities. But abuses of God’s and Christ’s names far outnumber them all.
It’s a shame, really. Because most of these problematic concerns could have been avoided, especially since their absence wouldn’t have altered the plot of the film too much. But since they are present, it’s pretty easy to say that Sitting in Bars With Cake, much like bars themselves, won’t be story that accessible for all ages.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.