A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You can't recapture your high school glory days, and you can't regain those lazy days with almost no responsibilities. These are tough lessons that 29-year-old Leigh has to learn after she abandons her life in New York and moves back in with her parents in suburban Connecticut.
Positive Role Models
Leigh is a bit of a slacker, quitting her job as a New York journalist, moving back to her suburban hometown, getting a job as a summer lifeguard, and hanging out with high school kids. Her best friends aren't much better, and they all seem to be reverting back to their teens, hanging out in parking lots after school and traipsing out to the woods to smoke pot.
Violence & Scariness
Some arguments between friends and couples, and one disturbing scene that comes in the aftermath of a tragedy.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The main character, a 29-year-old woman, becomes involved with a 16-year-old boy, and there are several graphic sex scenes, including oral sex and vigorous thrusting. Another scene shows a married couple starting to get involved in oral sex; the man's penis is seen.
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Frequent swearing throughout the film includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," and more. One scene shows tween boys yelling "f--k off, bitch" to an adult woman.
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Products & Purchases
Several scenes take place in and around one character's Toyota.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People drink wine, beer, and harder drinks while socializing and at parties. Several people regularly smoke cigarettes, and a few scenes show people smoking pot and acting high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lifeguard is about an unhappy 29-year-old New York reporter (Kristen Bell) who chucks it all to move back in with her parents in her sleepy Connecticut hometown. Soon, she's hanging out with her high school pals in the same old parking lot, and it's not long before she becomes involved with a high school boy who's just slightly more than half her age. There are several explicit sex scenes (including one in which a man's genitals are seen), as well as frequent swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), and lots of drinking and pot smoking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The best thing that can be said about The Lifeguard is that Bell turns in what may be one of her strongest performances. As Leigh, she seethes with despair and confusion, which lends the movie a whiff of authenticity. (Gummer is pretty fantastic, too.)
But her starring role isn't enough to rescue the movie from drowning in a pool of obviousness and a complete disregard for tone. Yes, Leigh is lost; yes, she's paralyzed. But it's a pretty big leap to expect the audience to cheer her on when her way out includes a perplexing (and cringe-inducing) relationship. Malaise is a rich field to mine in movies, but only if a filmmaker knows how to make it relatable or interesting -- and hopefully both. Leigh's struggles are unfortunately neither.
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.