Adrift

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Adrift Movie Poster Image
Intense survival-romance story is cheerless and clichéd.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is about overcoming intense odds and heroically facing great challenges -- i.e., trying to survive when survival doesn't look likely.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tami is a strong role model when it comes to surviving after the storm. She shows incredible courage and strength in the face of great stress and anguish. But before the storm, she's depicted as a drifter who doesn't really have a place to live and just goes where the wind takes her; she avoids contact with her family rather than talking to them. But she's still kind and an appealing character.

Violence

Bloody, gory leg wound, which grows worse and turns gangrenous. Bloody, open head wound and streaming blood. Self-stitching of same head wound. Scenes of peril during the crashing storm. Arguing, stress.

Sex

Tami is shown naked, very nearly full-frontal (seen from a not-quite-clear angle). Her nipples are frequently visible through tank tops. Kissing. Brief sex talk.

Language

A use of "f--k," more than one use of "s--t," and uses of "hell," "damn," "oh my God," and "frickin'." A use of "Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

Skippy peanut butter shown. SPAM shown and mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tami smokes pot in a long, clear close-up. Some social drinking (wine and beer). Brief cigar smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Adrift is a romance and survival-at-sea movie based on a true story. Expect to see some gory, icky wounds with streaming and/or clumping blood; a character stitching up their own head wound; a terrifying, boat-smashing storm; and arguing. Star Shailene Woodley appears essentially fully naked, but she's partly obscured by the camera angle. Her nipples are also sometimes seen through her tank tops. She and co-star Sam Claflin kiss, and sex is briefly discussed. Language includes a use of "f--k" and more than one use of "s--t." Woodley's character smokes pot in one scene, and there's social drinking (beer, wine) and brief cigar smoking. Though it's clear that a lot of effort went into making the movie feel intense, it can be grueling for viewers who aren't already fans of this genre or the stars.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byMia700 June 29, 2019
Adult Written byjoeh6 January 6, 2019

Adrift is a beautiful movie!!

Adrift is the true story of a woman named Tami, who survived a major hurricane and this movie tells her incredible story of survival. Tami is played by Shailene... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 18, 2018

Awesome and Sad

ok I am 11 and I watched this movie with my mom's permission. And it was really sad. I cried at the end. It was also a true story. So I say a mature 11 oer... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 21, 2020

Intense and sad but good lesson

I watched this movie with my dad and it was making me feel nervous for the people and I liked that. I think that it has a good lesson of not giving up because T... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ADRIFT, Tami (Shailene Woodley) wakes up to find that the boat she's on has been hit by a storm. She spots her boyfriend, Richard (Sam Claflin), clinging to a dinghy. She builds a new sail to reach him and hauls him aboard. His leg and ribs are broken, so Tami sets about pumping the water out from below, finding food and fresh water, and navigating toward the nearest land. In flashback, Tami and Richard meet in Tahiti and are immediately drawn to each other. They're hired to sail a yacht from there back to San Diego -- Tami's home -- and then the storm hits. Back in the present, Tami and Richard manage to catch rainwater, but their food starts to run out, and Tami, a vegetarian, must catch and eat fresh fish. And there's one more challenge to overcome, too.

Is it any good?

Switching back and forth between a drippy romance before the storm and intense amounts of anguish and suffering after it, this based-on-a-true-story survival movie is overly reverent. Actors love movies like Adrift because they can use their most intense, high-velocity emotional ammunition; Oscar voters tend to love them, too, and awards frequently follow. Woodley, who also produced, first appears lithe and muscular, and then later, wasted and gaunt; she also uses makeup to make herself look sun-baked and destroyed. Her commitment is impressive, so it's too bad that her co-star, Claflin, is so lackluster and that the resulting movie is so glum and dispiriting.

Director Baltasar Kormakur fails to use the flashbacks or flash-forwards to find any resting ground for the story (which is set in the '80s); it thrums at a constant, wearying high pitch. The score's wailing string section doesn't help. Worse, the screenplay uses what could be easily described as a cheat, especially for a movie that wears its "true story" credentials on its sleeve (it ends with real-life footage). It feels as if it's so constrained with the effort of honoring the tale's real subjects -- whose actual story is indeed remarkable -- that it can't do anything but recycle the genre's clichés.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Adrift's violence. Are the gory wounds too intense, or do they fit with the story? What about the boat-smashing storm scenes?

  • How are sex and nudity portrayed? Is the couple responsible? Respectful? What other values are conveyed?

  • How are drinking and drug use portrayed? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Is Tami a role model? Does her poor relationship with her family change your view of her? Why, or why not?

  • What's the appeal of the survival genre? How does this film compare with other survival-at-sea movies?

Movie details

  • In theaters: June 1, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2018
  • Cast: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin
  • Director: Baltasar Kormakur
  • Studio: STX Entertainment
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 120 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: injury images, peril, language, brief drug use, partial nudity and thematic elements
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

For kids who love true stories

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