By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Surprisingly fresh romance upends your assumptions.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A young man with Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism) attempts to forge a connection with his neighbor, whose big heart allows her to see beyond his limitations. But the rest of the world isn't as embracing, and some scenes depict others being hostile to him. Still, the woman who loves him does so wholeheartedly, with little judgment.
Positive Role Models
Two very different people take great pains to understand each other and wind up learning more about themselves -- and love in general. It's a touching pairing, especially since it's juxtaposed against what appears to be a solid marriage wounded by deceit and betrayal.
Violence & Scariness
A young man explodes in frustration; he screams and throws objects around, and the woman with him is afraid. But the tantrum doesn't appear directed toward her. Instead, it's fairly clear that it's because he can't control his overwhelming emotions. Another screaming match ensues later between father and daughter.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fairly frank discussion about sex and arousal. A couple has sex for the first time -- though there's no outright nudity, there's some kissing and tumbling in bed. She also places his hand in her bra. Later, a married man admits to having an affair.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Expletives are used pretty sparingly, but include words like "bulls--t," "f--k," "dick," "damn," "hell," and "oh God."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking at parties, etc.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, despite the marketing campaign, this romantic film about the unusual but deeply compassionate relationship between a man with a high-functioning form of autism and his new neighbor is more dramatic than comedic. There are frank discussions about sex, since the man's condition means that he always says exactly what he thinks, even about sensitive matters. Also, some characters are perplexed by Adam's autism and sometimes downright hostile.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
Not what the trailer advertised
Report this review
Report this review
What's the Story?
Adam (Hugh Dancy), a 29-year-old electrical engineer, lives in a regimented world filled with routine meals (macaroni and cheese and frozen vegetables) and plain clothing (neutral-colored shirts and pants). His apartment, if drab, is neat as a pin. Adam has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism that leaves those who have it perfectly able to navigate the world -- but not emotions. So when friendly, pretty teacher Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into his building, Adam finds himself on unstable ground. Drawn to Beth but unable to make sense of love -- and the passion and confusion it entrails -- Adam is challenged to let her in. And Beth, who's unearthing unpleasant secrets about her own family, has her own issues to deal with.
Is It Any Good?
There are so many ways that ADAM could have taken a wrong turn, but thankfully it doesn't. Gracefully told and beautifully filmed, it steers clear of potholes that wreck most other movies about "conditions." First, there's Dancy, whose turn as Adam is spot on -- no overacting here. He's both tortured and content and always compelling. And Byrne is definitely his equal. When she falls in love, it's believable, even given the daunting setup.
Director Max Mayer understands the importance of being earnest; instead of lacing the entire enterprise with breezy romcom energy, he goes for truthfulness. Though the approach may have taken the wind out of Adam's sails just a bit -- it's more serious than typical date-night fare and perhaps a bit melodramatic on rare occasions -- it leaves the film interesting. And that's more than anyone else can say about romance movies of late.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difficulties inherent in Adam and Beth's relationship. Are they any worse than challenges that other couples face, or just different? Why are they drawn to each other?
How does the movie approach sex? Do Adam and Beth communicate well?
How have other movies and TV shows depicted characters suffering from autism and other similar conditions? How does Hugh Dancy's interpretation compare?
- In theaters: July 29, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: February 2, 2010
- Cast: Amy Irving, Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne
- Director: Max Mayer
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, sexual content and language.
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
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.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Movies with Characters Who Have Learning and Attention Issues and Developmental Disabilities
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate