A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No clear positive message, but plenty of food for thought. Overall, the movie feels pretty pessimistic, focusing on how badly humans tend to treat one another and how they prefer preconceived beliefs to truth. On the upside, a character reasons that "people are awful, but they're all we've got." A final scene has various layers of messages about the nature of entertainment and/or distraction.
Positive Role Models
No one here is very admirable. In a crisis, characters choose to help their family at the expense of strangers. Additionally, characters tend to argue and put others down.
Of the six main characters, four are a White family (mom, dad, and boy and girl teen kids), two are a Black father and his adult daughter. There are comments that could be microaggressions -- e.g., when a Black woman opts not to go swimming and a White woman asks, "because of your hair?" -- as well as comments about Black people not being able to trust White people. A Spanish-speaking woman appears in a disturbing sequence; she pleads with Clay for help, but he can't understand her and so leaves her. Other characters of color appear in smaller roles or in the background.
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Violence & Scariness
Gory, bloody corpse. Severed arm. Wide shot of many corpses at the scene of a plane crash. Character spits blood and yanks out several of his loose teeth, with more blood seen. A huge oil tanker runs aground on a beach, endangering the people there. Helicopter crashes into the beach, sending a spray of sand and water everywhere. Guns. Self-driving cars try to crash into characters' car. Character pulls tick from leg, some blood seen. Brother teases/bullies his younger sister. Shrill screeching noise causes characters to scream in pain. Crashed cars on highway. Characters threatened by a large herd of deer. Arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Married couple heads into the bedroom for quick sex ("we have 15 minutes"; "that's all I need!"). A teen boy ogles teen girls in bikinis; he also secretly takes photos and spies on teen girls with his phone (using the camera to zoom in). Later he tries to masturbate to one photo. Brief, strong sex-related dialogue. Song with graphic, racy lyrics ("can she tell I'm hard right now," "we're sexin'," etc.). Two characters, after drinking too much, fall into an embrace; they go no further, mentioning their marriages and partners.
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Strong language isn't constant but includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "dumbass," "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
While driving, a character announces, "there's a Starbucks," and the camera then cuts to a close-up of a Starbucks coffee. The cup is then shown for a bit longer in a wider shot. Self-driving Tesla vehicles are an important part of one sequence. A character is obsessed with the TV series Friends.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen vapes, sharing with an adult. Adult smokes cigarettes. Adults drink to excess (wine and whiskey) and are hung over.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Leave the World Behind is an end-of-the-world thriller based on Rumaan Alam's bestselling book about two families holed up in a remote rental house after a mysterious cyberattack. It's downbeat but so well-crafted that it maintains a gripping suspense. Shocking imagery includes a plane crash site with dead bodies, a severed arm (with some blood), a character yanking out his own teeth (blood shown), crashing vehicles, arguing, threats, and more. Language isn't constant but ranges from "f--k" and "s--t" to "goddamn" and "dumbass." There's sex-related dialogue and sexual situations. A married couple has a quickie, and a teen boy ogles and spies on teen girls in bikinis, using his phone to zoom in and take pictures (he tries to masturbate to one photo). Characters smoke cigarettes and drink too much (they're later hung over), and a teen vapes. Starbucks coffee and Tesla cars are featured prominently. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Making crafty use of editing, music, and composition, this pessimistic thriller is more about human flaws than anything thrilling, but it's so well made that it easily catches us in its grip. Adapted from the same-named novel by Rumaan Alam and written and directed by Sam Esmail -- creator of the TV shows Homecoming and Mr. Robot -- Leave the World Behind feels lean and taut, even at an ample 141 minutes. It doesn't waste time overexplaining or showing anything that doesn't need to be shown. Many moments -- including an early scene in which an oil tanker slowly, slowly heads toward a populated beach -- feel startlingly fresh. Another sequence expertly cuts back and forth between three events as characters explore their surroundings and each tries to figure out what's going on. The tension mounts so perfectly that it's exciting.
The performances by everyone involved are superb, sharp without being hysterical. The dialogue is equally strong, as it unpacks the meaning of all this harrowing mystery. It essentially boils down to human beings' relationships with technology and with other human beings, and the conclusion is that we can be rather awful to each other. But Leave the World Behind knocks us for a loop with its just-right ending scene, ironically both brutal in its commentary and a bit comforting as well.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.