By Kat Halstead,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Irish road trip has strong language, drinking, adult themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Be open to the wisdom of others, but make decisions that are right for you. It's important to show self-compassion. Blood is not always thicker than water, and family can let you down.
Positive Role Models
Joy is cold and confrontational at the start, using her knowledge of the law to threaten and get her own way. Gradually she lets down her guard and allows herself to show compassion for others and for herself. Mully is cheeky and streetwise beyond his 12 years, stealing and driving a taxi, and showing a lack of respect toward adults. He gradually reveals a sense of responsibility and wisdom, using his knowledge beyond his years to help others as well. Mully's dad, James, is in debt to dangerous people. He steals money and also encourages Mully to steal. He is verbally and physically abusive on occasion, and shows little concern for his son's well-being.
There is very little ethnic diversity in the cast. Walks a fine line in terms of passing judgment on women's choices around motherhood, but doesn't take a direct stance. However, questions around motherhood are the main concern for the lead female character, and very little else. Casual references to "claiming" post-partum psychosis and language such as "mental" and "mentalist" used in association with mental health. The film is written and directed by women.
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Violence & Scariness
Death of mothers mentioned, one of which was the result of cancer. Scenes involving a child in danger of drowning at sea. Teenager is wrestled out of a car resulting in cuts and grazes. A character has tissue up their nose to signify having been punched. A couple get into a physical fight -- character straddles the other and hurts their child when they try to help. A character who has recently given birth is seen feeling unwell with blood on their jeans, and later with blood in the bath. Passing tale of a person taking someone's eye out with a gear stick and them having to get a glass eye. A fox is accidentally hit by a car then run over a second time to put it out of its misery.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Hug and kiss between adults. Non-sexual partial nudity in breastfeeding scenes.
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Frequent language from adults and teens, including "s--t," "piss," "pissed," "f--k," "f---ing hell," "f----r," "arse," "a--hole," "damned," "t-ts," and "bloody." "Jesus Christ" used as an exclamation. The ablelist terms "mental" and "mentalist" also used.
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Products & Purchases
Baileys alcohol brand shown and consumed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol on numerous occasions and a character is shown intoxicated. Cigarettes smoked. Passing reference to cocaine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Joyride is an excellent Irish drama -- about an unlikely friendship between a new mother and a 12-year-old boy on the run -- with strong language and mature themes. Olivia Colman plays Joy, who is on her way to have her newborn baby adopted by a friend when her taxi is stolen by teenager Mully (Charlie Reid). Mully is on the run after trying to stop his father stealing charity money. The mature themes include domestic abuse, as well as adoption, death of mothers, cancer, absent parents, and passing references to kidnapping, Romanian orphanages, and child trafficking. Adult characters drink and smoke, and one is seen intoxicated. A physical fight takes place between a man and women and his son is pushed aside roughly when he tries to help. There are also scenes where a child is in danger of drowning at sea. Strong language is featured throughout, including "f--k" and "s--t." While some of the content is mature, the film also has a fun odd couple road trip element that is full of warmth and humor.
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Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
In JOYRIDE, solicitor Joy (Olivia Colman) is on route to take her newborn baby to be adopted by a close friend, before flying on holiday to recuperate. Her plans are derailed when her taxi is stolen by 12-year-old Mully (Charlie Reid), on the run with stolen charity money he's keeping safe from his father. As the two argue about where they're going, they find themselves on an unexpected journey that could change both their lives forever.
Is It Any Good?
This Irish drama is kept on track by the strong performances and natural chemistry between Colman and newcomer Reid. Joyride also has enough heart and humor to navigate its mature themes and potentially controversial take on motherhood through the occasional bumps in the road. Reid is a revelation as the multilayered Mully, showing great depth in his first feature role as a wayward teen with an old soul kept going by an impish glint and a sharp tongue. He calls Colman's Joy "Vodka Tonic" because that's what she orders at the bar, and the two give as good as they get in their slanging matches through the country roads.
There's a predictability to how the plot unfolds, and a danger of coming across judgmental toward Joy's decision to give up her child. But the story speeds along at an easy pace and the blossoming relationship between the mismatched leads never gets tired. There's a spikiness to the script and a spark to the interactions that means even as the roadblocks and the physical route start to make less sense, this is still a funny, warm, and watchable film that doesn't run out of gas.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Joyride approaches the subject of motherhood. How did it portray Joy's struggle? Can you think of other films that deal with a similar subject? What similarities and differences do you notice about the messages around motherhood?
Discuss the characters of Joy and Mully. What did they learn and grow to accept about themselves and others? What do you understand empathy and compassion to mean?
Talk about the strong language used in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
The movie is structured around two familiar devices of a road trip and an odd couple. Can you think of other films that use either or both of these? How did this film compare?
How was drinking and smoking depicted in the film? Were they glamorized? Why does that matter?
- In theaters: December 23, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: December 23, 2022
- Cast: Olivia Colman, Charlie Reid, Lochlann O'Mearáin
- Director: Emer Reynolds
- Studios: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 24, 2023
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