The Guardian

  • Review Date: January 21, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2006

Common Sense Media says

Waterlogged rescue flick is too intense for kids.
  • Review Date: January 21, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2006





What parents need to know

Positive messages

An arrogant young swimmer learns to support his team and make hard choices in rescue situations; a lonely veteran swimmer trains youngsters to take up his heroic legacy.


Several violent storms at sea; flashbacks show the dangers of Coast Guard rescue-swimming; a rescuer has to punch a hysterical victim; a couple of rescuers die; a helicopter crashes and explodes; a trainer is punched in the nose and bleeds; a couple of barfights with Navy sailors leave Jake (and then Ben) bloodied and bruised; training is hard (in freezing water, holding breath, swimming to the point of exhaustion).


A fairly young couple engages in sexual activity, including passionate kisses and some playful rolling in bed, wearing underwear and mostly under the covers.


One "f--k" several other profanities ("damn," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.).


Wild Turkey liquor bottle is visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink in bars to get drunk; some vomiting; Ben chews Vicodins to kill physical and emotional pain; some cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action drama includes several harrowing scenes of storms and sinking boats at sea. Rescue swimmers valiantly try to save victims, but some deaths occur on screen (not bloody, but sad and -- in one case -- quite disturbing). Kids with fears about water should probably see something else. Sailors and swimmers argue and draw blood in fistfights. A couple falls in love and is shown kissing and in bed (no explicit sex, but tumbling under blankets and some underwear shots). Protagonists drink, take painkillers, and use occasional profanity.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Kevin Costner stars as Ben Randall, a veteran Coast Guard rescue swimmer who turns to teaching after a traumatic event leaves him unable to carry on as usual. Ben needs to recover his nerve, while cocky student Jake (Ashton Kutcher) learn to play nicely with others, including his girlfriend, Emily (Melissa Sagemiller). Both teacher and student have suffered; the revelations of that suffering lead each to his own sort of manly re-commitment. At the rescue-swimming training facility, Ben's red-lit nightmares are compounded by the fact that his long-suffering wife, Helen (Sela Ward), has left him. He self-medicates and grumps at the recruits, and for 18 weeks, drills his trainees hard. Ben's methods occasionally alarm and annoy his fellow instructors, including resentful second-in-command Jack (Neal McDonough) and skeptical presiding officer Larson (John Heard). During his down time, Ben calls Helen to beg forgiveness and helps Jake avenge a beating he received from disdainful Navy sailors. Though the trainees' ranks do include a woman, the focus here is on boys learning to be men. Ben and Jake see themselves in each other, pretty much to the exclusion of anyone else. When Emily suggests to Jake that Ben may be "trying to push you to be better," Jake sets her straight: "He knows I'm better than he is!"

Is it any good?


With a retread plot, plenty of boy-bonding action, and a shirtless Ashton Kutche, Andrew Davis' THE GUARDIAN is a by-the-numbers crowd pleaser that's about as dull as a heroic redemption story could be.

Per formula, parallel redemption stories grant "emotional" moments to both Ben and Kutcher's Jake. By the time Jake has his big breakdown scene (he cries, though he doesn't actually say, "I got nowhere else to go!"), it's clear that, for all their earnest, actorly efforts, neither man has a chance against Ron L. Brinkerhoff's hackneyed script.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about ways to deal with trauma. How does the movie make the case that focusing on the future (in the form of students to be taught and lives to be saved) helps Ben overcome his guilt, anger, and frustration? What are other ways -- both successful and unsuccessful -- that people deal with traumatic events? How do Ben and Jake's similarities (ambition, competitiveness, tragic pasts) make them ideal partners? What other movies have used a similar structure (tough veteran mentors young hot shot)? Families can also discuss the work of the Coast Guard, including the unit's heroic rescues on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 28, 2006
DVD release date:January 23, 2007
Cast:Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Costner, Melissa Sagemiller
Director:Andrew Davis
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:136 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language and some sensuality.

This review of The Guardian was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bySagekritter April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Touching and real

With a family member in The Coast Guard and active in search and rescue it was amazing to see the things he has told me about come to life. This film was well researched and Costner & Kutcher gave impressive performances.

Teen, 15 years old Written byJustjr92 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A fun film

This movie is full of action and is lots of fun to watch. Why Common Sense Media gave it only two stars i cannot figure out! I thought that it was very entertaining and lots of fun to watch.

Adult Written byjshack April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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