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Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

Death is a talking bird—a macaw, to be exact—or at least it is in the eyes of a dying 15-year-old named Tuesday.

When Death comes to take her, Tuesday attempts to cover her fear with a joke about penguins. To her surprise, Death enjoys the joke.

So much of Death’s life is filled with … well, death. He hears the thoughts of every person who wants to die. He feels their pain.

He knows exactly how excruciating Tuesday’s life has been, unable to walk or even breathe properly on her own. So it’s a refreshing change of pace for Death when Tuesday offers up humor instead of the usual pleading and complaining. And for a brief moment, Death is able to shut out all the other voices summoning him. The steady flow of agony turns off.

Death is so impressed by Tuesday—by her positive attitude in the literal face of death—that when she asks him one last quick favor, he grants it to her.

He lets her call her mom to say goodbye. And when Tuesday’s mom doesn’t answer, he agrees to wait until the woman gets home so the mother and daughter can bid farewell.

Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple.

Although Tuesday has embraced the fact that it’s her time to pass on, her mom, Zora, hasn’t. And Zora will do just about anything—even killing Death—to keep Tuesday around.

Positive Elements

At its core, this is a story about a young woman who has made peace with death (both the character depicted here and the state of being). She tries to help her mother do the same—to help her mom through the inevitable grief of the forthcoming loss.

Death himself helps Zora learn how to honor her daughter after Tuesday is gone. But unfortunately, anything nice that might be derived from this exploration of grief is lost by a bold statement from Death about the existence of God.

Spiritual Elements

“There is no God,” Death tells Zora. There’s no afterlife either, he continues. Rather, the “afterlife” is simply a person existing in the memories of those still living. And these statements become all the more disturbing when you consider how many people beg Death to take them.

Death himself, as I mentioned at the outset, is a talking macaw that can change his size at will, sort of like Antman. And he claims he was born out of a literal void of darkness. He’s not a murderer, though, so much as a reaper. He locates beings (animals and humans alike) that need to die—a fly that got squashed, a man whose legs were severed in an accident, a sick teenage girl—and uses his death touch to finish the process.

Without his touch, nothing can die. So that fly, as well as thousands of other insects, continue flying about, swarming parks and city streets. The man with no legs drags himself across the pavement in agony. Tuesday continues to suffer through an illness that causes her entire body to hurt.

When Zora attempts to kill Death, she swallows his severed, still-talking head. After doing this, she’s able to channel his abilities, and she temporarily takes on the mantle of Death herself.

Death mocks and insults Jesus Christ. Elsewhere, before reaping one man, Zora says the Lord’s Prayer with him. A Hindu woman spits on Death. Zora sells two taxidermized rats dressed up like Catholic bishops, joking that they’re part of a Vatican conspiracy. There’s a joke about Mormons.

[Spoiler Warning] Death heals inside Zora’s body. We don’t see it, but he’s soon a fully formed macaw again. And he eventually leaves Zora to resume his duties once more.

Sexual Content

Zora bathes Tuesday, and we see the teenager’s bare back and the side of her breast during the process. A painting of a nude woman with her back turned hangs in Zora’s bathroom. Tuesday jokes about masturbation. There’s a reference to Tinder.

Zora makes an ill-advised joke about kissing Tuesday’s nurse, to which the woman responds she’s not attracted to Zora. Embarrassed, Zora tries to explain it was a joke, hoping the woman won’t report her for harassment. A man is held by his male partner as he dies.

In a taxidermist’s shop, Zora finds herself at eye level with the testicles of an animal. (She attempts to turn the stuffed creature around but is scolded by the shop owner.)

Violent Content

Obviously, Death’s job is an inherently violent one. And while he’s not responsible for the illnesses or physical injuries that cause death, he is the one who finishes the dying process.

Zora attempts to stop Death by killing him (not realizing that she can’t kill Death). She beats him with a heavy book, severing his head. After, she pours alcohol on his body and sets it on fire. All the while, Death cries out in pain. And when it’s all over and Death’s head is still talking, Zora eats it. Later on, the bloody, headless corpse tries to find its head, beating itself against Tuesday’s window.

As I already mentioned, while Death is out of commission, a man whose legs have been severed drags himself across the pavement begging to die. A woman says a dog’s head (sans body) barked at her in the street. And we see other instances of “zombified” corpses.

When Zora takes over for Death, she ends these instances of suffering by granting them death. She “helps” a number of other people pass on as well—folks who have been stabbed, burned and otherwise harmed. Someone tries to stomp on Zora after she uses Death’s powers to make herself small.

One man lies at the feet of his dead wife, begging for death to take him too after seemingly taking a number of pills.

Early on, Death visits a victim of domestic abuse, and the woman says her significant other “didn’t mean to stab me.”

When Zora is fixing a broken light, Tuesday purposely turns the light on to electrocute her mother several times as revenge for Zora lying. Tuesday and Death smash a phone in frustration. One scene takes place in a taxidermy shop.

Crude or Profane Language

A dozen uses of the f-word and two uses of the s-word. We also here “a–” and “pr–k.” Christ’s name is abused once; God’s name is abused six times; and someone exclaims, “God in heaven!”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Tuesday and Death vape marijuana. Tuesday jokes that heroin would make her feel better.

Zora smokes a cigarette. She pours shots for herself and Death after Tuesday dies, but the bird is unable to drink the beverage.

Other Negative Elements

Zora lies to Tuesday about having a job. Unbeknownst to the teenager, Zora has sold everything on the top level of their home (which is inaccessible to the paralyzed Tuesday) to pay the bills.

Zora pretends to go to work every day, leaving Tuesday in the care of a nurse. And when the nurse comments that Tuesday wants to spend more time with her mom, Zora is offended, claiming that the demands of her job keep her away.

Really, Zora seems to be avoiding Tuesday because she’s scared of her daughter’s inevitable death. But instead of being honest, she lies, hurting Tuesday’s feelings. (And she lies to her daughter in other places, too.) She eventually realizes that she was being selfish, placing her own needs above Tuesday’s (though that’s rectified).

Several characters take comfort in a song about a man who is so miserable that a “good” day is simply one where he’s a little less miserable.

When Tuesday complains about her friends not visiting anymore and her mom not loving her, Death is quick to tell her that she could definitely have it worse.

Several characters vomit and dry heave. A woman urinates offscreen. Zora and Tuesday read a story about a stalker who urinated on his victim. And they joke that at least it wasn’t a bowel movement.

Early on, it seems that Death enjoys his job. He laughs at a few victims, but he also hugs a few. It’s confusing, to say the least. When Zora takes over, she seems to enjoy it as well, even wondering if she can do it fulltime.


“There is no God,” Death tells Zora.

“That makes sense,” Zora responds.

Does it?

Tuesday is a film that has a lot of spiritual problems, starting with a talking macaw that acts as the Grim Reaper and culminating in that bold statement from said creature.

And I understand what the film is trying to say: that grief cannot consume us; that we can’t live for the existence of another person.

But Tuesday doesn’t give us any reason for hope beyond that. According to this film, we live just to live. And when we die, well, we’d better hope someone remembers us, because those memories are all that remain when we’re each gone.

That grim worldview alone is enough for Christians to avoid this movie. Because there is no spiritual truth or hope to take comfort in here.

But once we add in the film’s other problems—foul language, inappropriate jokes about sexual activity and drugs, and more than one straight mocking of Jesus Christ—we’re left with a depressing, convoluted story, one that you can’t even talk yourself through.

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Emily Tsiao

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.