The moment I heard an old man in voiceover speak to just how good old-fashioned clean country livin’ was compared to big city life, I felt a great surge of anxiety. However, The Glass Castle isn’t nearly as cringeworthy as its intro makes it out to be.
Hell, the opening scene is practically an ode to bad parenting, as cute lil Jeannette Walls tells her mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) how hungry she is, and Watts replies that she’s too busy finishing her painting to make her something, instead telling Jeanette to make a meal herself. With the stove. Sure enough, disaster strikes, as Jeannette’s dress catches fire and her mother rushes her to the hospital. Hospital officials are predictably concerned, especially when Jeannette fills them in on their family’s nomadic lifestyle. With a social worker threatening her with safety and stability, patriarch Rex (Woody Harrelson) decides to bust her out and hightail it outta Dodge. It’s hilarious, if rather appalling in retrospect.