Tully (2018 film)

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Tully (2018 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJason Reitman
Written byDiablo Cody
Produced by
CinematographyEric Steelberg
Edited byStefan Grube
Music byRob Simonsen
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 23, 2018 (2018-01-23) (Sundance)
  • May 4, 2018 (2018-05-04) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million
Box office$15.6 million[2]

Tully is a 2018 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman, written by Diablo Cody, and starring Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, and Mark Duplass. The film follows the developing friendship between a mother of three and her night nanny. It is the third collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, following Juno (2007) and Young Adult (2011), the last of which also starred Theron.[3]

The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival[4] and was released in the United States by Focus Features on May 4, 2018. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Theron and Davis's performances and the film's portrayal of motherhood. Theron was nominated for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy Movie at the 76th Golden Globe Awards and at the 24th Critics' Choice Awards, respectively.


Marlo is pregnant with an unplanned third child with her husband Drew. Their oldest daughter, Sarah, is an ordinary child, whereas Jonah, their son, has a developmental disorder doctors have not been able to diagnose; trying to reduce his sensitivity to external stimuli, she brushes his skin using the "Wilbarger protocol". Craig, Marlo's wealthy brother, offers to pay for a night nanny as a baby gift, partly as she experienced postpartum depression after giving birth to Jonah, but she rebuffs him.

After giving birth, Marlo quickly becomes even more overwhelmed and exhausted than she already had been. When Jonah's principal recommends that he be placed in a different school, she goes on a foul-mouthed tirade and then breaks down. In the parking lot, she finds the contact information for the night nanny in her purse.

That night, Tully, the night nanny, arrives at Marlo's house. Despite initial awkwardness, they develop a close friendship over the course of several nights. Tully proves to be an exceptional nanny and also performs tasks such as cleaning the house and baking cupcakes for Jonah's class. When Marlo mentions that she and Drew, who has a fetish for women in diner waitress uniforms, have not had sex for some time, Tully puts on a uniform that Marlo had previously purchased, but never used, and the women engage in a threesome with Drew.

One night, Tully arrives to work visibly distressed. She says she has fought with her roommate, with whom she is "enmeshed", due to her roommate's anger over her bringing home too many men. Tully impulsively suggests going into the city for a drink, to which Marlo reluctantly agrees, and they drive to Marlo's old neighborhood, Bushwick, Brooklyn. At a bar, Tully suddenly tells her she can no longer work for her, explaining that she was there only to "bridge a gap" and she is no longer needed. Marlo steals a bike and goes to her former girlfriend's apartment, but no one answers the buzzer. Tully suggests she may be taking things too far.

On the way home, Marlo falls asleep at the wheel and swerves her car into a river. She wakes up trapped underwater and envisions Tully as a mermaid coming to rescue her.

At the hospital, a staff psychiatrist approaches Drew and informs him that Marlo was suffering from extreme sleep deprivation and exhaustion. When the doctor asks about their nanny, Drew tells her that he does not know much about her. A hospital clerk asks Drew for Marlo's maiden name, and he provides it: "Tully".[a] Waking up in her hospital room, she is visited by Tully. They decide that they have to stop seeing each other and each thank the other for keeping them alive before parting amicably. Drew reenters and apologizes to Marlo for not realizing what she was going through and they both say they "love us".

At home, Marlo goes to brush Jonah. He questions if the procedure is "real", and they decide they no longer need to do it, though he says he likes to spend time with his mother and they embrace. She goes to the kitchen and puts in earbuds to listen to music while she prepares the kids' lunches for the next day. Drew comes in, takes one of the earbuds, and helps to chop things up while they listen to the music together.



Diablo Cody wrote the film as a way of dealing with her own difficult pregnancy. The script helped her, becoming "a glowing, soothing presence I could return to whenever I felt overwhelmed."[5] Reitman noted, according to Cody, that Tully fits together thematically with their previous collaborations, logically concluding an unintentional trilogy where "Juno is about being prematurely thrust into adulthood, Young Adult is about resisting adulthood, and Tully is about finding grace and acceptance in midlife."[5]

Theron said she gained nearly 50 pounds (23 kg) for the role over a period of three and a half months. She had to eat around the clock to keep the weight on, and then it took her a year and a half to take the weight off after filming wrapped.[6]

Filming lasted from September 22 to November 2, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia.[7]


In May 2017, Focus Features acquired distribution rights to the film and set the theatrical release date for April 20, 2018;[8] however, in March 2018 the date was pushed back to May 4.[9]

Tully was made available for digital download on July 17, 2018, and released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 31.[10]


Box office[edit]

Tully grossed $9.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $15.6 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, Tully was released alongside Overboard and Bad Samaritan, and was projected to gross $3–4 million from 1,353 theaters in its opening weekend.[11] It ended up debuting to $3.2 million, which was a lower figure than Reitman's Labor Day ($5.1 million in 2014), and finishing 6th at the box office. 87% of its audience was over the age of 25. Deadline Hollywood noted that an opening of $6.5 million would have been an ideal debut for the film.[12] It made $2.2 million in its second weekend, dropping to 8th place at the box office.[13]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 286 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10; the website's critical consensus reads: "Tully delves into the modern parenthood experience with an admirably deft blend of humor and raw honesty, brought to life by an outstanding performance by Charlize Theron."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on 52 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15] According to PostTrak, filmgoers gave the film an overall positive score of 73%, with audience members over the age of 25 giving it a 71% and those under 25 giving it an 87%.[12]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "B", calling it "funnier than Juno and almost as ruthlessly honest as Young Adult", and saying: "Tully never pulls at your heartstrings quite as hard as it might, but there's something beautiful about the way these two women both learn to love themselves, and in a way that also makes it easier for them to love each other."[16] Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers praised the performances and script, giving the film 3.5 stars out of 4 and saying: "When the film takes a sharp turn and veers off-course in its final third, you hold on because Davis and Theron make sure you do. Together these two dynamite actresses cut to the soulful core of a movie that turns out to be funny, touching and vital."[17]

Despite the film receiving positive reviews from many critics, one group of critics criticized the film for its portrayal of postpartum mental health. In particular, they took exception to the normalization and lack of recognition of postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, which they deemed careless.[18][19][20] Manohla Dargis' review in The New York Times suggested that:

Marlo very visibly sinks into postpartum depression — you can see Ms. Theron pulling Marlo deeper and deeper inside — the movie pretends that her burden is somehow too hidden for anyone to notice ... it isolates Marlo, and once again it is a woman who's the problem that needs solving.[20]

Diana Spalding (the digital education editor for the website Motherly, a midwife, and a pediatric nurse) argued that Theron's character displays behaviors more typical of postpartum psychosis, the symptoms of which include delusions, hallucinations, periods of extreme activity, anger, paranoia, and trouble communicating. Along with other negative critics of the movie, Spalding had looked forward to seeing a film about what motherhood is truly like, but instead found the issue of postpartum mental illness "unaddressed", and Marlo's suicidal ideation normalized.[19] This condition is dangerous to both mother and child; according to Carolyn Wagner, a maternal mental health therapist based in Chicago, "it is extremely serious, and presents a grave danger to mom and infant. It does not involve [a] fantastical imagined friend and caregiver, and it is certainly nothing to be made into a plot twist."[19]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Alliance of Women Film Journalists 2020 Best Woman Screenwriter Diablo Cody Nominated
Bravest Performance Charlize Theron Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2019 Best Actress in a Comedy Charlize Theron Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association 2020 Best Overlooked Film Nominated
CinEuphoria Awards 2019 Best Actress - International Competition Charlize Theron Nominated
Cleveland International Film Festival 2018 Best American Independent Feature Film Jason Reitman Nominated
Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards 2018 Best Actress Charlize Theron Nominated
GALECA 2019 Unsung Film of the Year Nominated
Golden Globes January 5, 2020 Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Charlize Theron Nominated
Hawaii Film Critics Society 2019 Best Actress Nominated
International Online Cinema Awards 2018 Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Mackenzie Davis Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Diablo Cody Nominated
Jupiter Award 2019 Best International Actress Charlize Theron Won
Leo Awards June 4, 2019 Best Motion Picture Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook, Beth Kono, Charlize Theron,
Diablo Cody, Mason Novick, Ron McLeod, Aaron Gilbert
Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture Aieisha Li Nominated
Best Visual Effects in a Motion Picture Robin Hackl, Dave Morley, Tara Conley & Matt Yeoman Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Awards December 8, 2019 Best Actress Charlize Theron Nominated
Online Association of Female Critics 2018 Best Female Lead Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics 2018 Best Actress Nominated
The Joey Awards 2018 Best Actress in a Feature Film Supporting/Principal Role Age 5-11 Lia Frankland Won
Young Artist Awards 2019 Best Performance in a Feature Film: Supporting Young Actor Asher Miles Fallica Nominated
Young Entertainer Awards 2019 Best Supporting Young Actress – Feature Film Lia Frankland Won


  1. ^ Revealing that Tully does not exist – Marlo imagined her 26-year-old self coming to help her cope with stress.


  1. ^ D'Arcy, David (26 January 2018). "'Tully': Sundance Review". Screen International. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Tully (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  3. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 6, 2018). "New 'Tully' Trailer: Charlize Theron Gets a Nanny in Reunion with Director Jason Reitman". Collider. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  4. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 21, 2018). "Charlize Theron, Jason Reitman & Diablo Cody Reteam 'Tully' Is Sundance Secret Screening". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "In her own words, Diablo Cody reveals how writing 'Tully' saved her". Los Angeles Times. 8 November 2018.
  6. ^ Calvario, Liz (April 17, 2018). "Charlize Theron Reveals 'Very Long Journey' to Lose 50 Pounds Packed on for 'Tully'". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Tully Movie with Charlize Theron Starts Filming in Vancouver". What's Filming. September 22, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 4, 2017). "Focus Features Acquires Reitman-Theron-Cody Reteam 'Tully' For April 2018 Bow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 15, 2018). "Charlize Theron Comedy 'Tully' Moves To First Weekend Of May". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  10. ^ @TullyMovie (May 30, 2018). "Academy Award Winner, @CharlizeAfrica stars in the critically acclaimed dramatic comedy, #TULLY. Own it with Exclusive Bonus Content. Digital: July 17 / Blu-ray & DVD July 31 uni.pictures/Tully" (Tweet). Retrieved July 15, 2018 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 2, 2018). "Avengers: Infinity War' Ties 'Force Awakens' As Fastest Title To $300M, Will Make Another $100M+ This Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  12. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 6, 2018). "'Avengers: Infinity War' Is Second-Fastest Pic To $400M With Second-Best 2nd Weekend Ever At $112M+ – Sunday". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Busch, Anita; D'Alessandro, Anthony (May 13, 2018). "'Infinity War' Second-Fastest To Half Billion; 'Life Of The Party' No Pizzazz With $18M+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  14. ^ "Tully (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "Tully Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Ehrlich, David (January 26, 2018). "'Tully' Review: Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman Deliver a Modern Fairy Tale About Motherhood — Sundance 2018". IndieWire. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Travers, Peter (May 2, 2018). "'Tully' Review: Charlize Theron's Maternal Meltdown Is Dramedy Gold". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Tomasi, Patricia (April 25, 2017). "Charlize Theron's Movie 'Tully' Angers Maternal Mental Health Advocates". HuffPost. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c Spalding, Diana (n.d.). "We've seen Tully—and we've got some real concerns". Motherly. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  20. ^ a b Dargis, Manohla (3 May 2018). "Review: In the Comedy 'Tully,' Mom's Struggle Is Real". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2019.

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