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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 9 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.


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.


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.


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).


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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMark D. May 24, 2018

A strong statement about female courage and empowerment

A very compelling.exciting movie that writers mixed a sensitive and respectful love story with a thrilling adventure that sends a message of empowerment and cou... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byKaleigh G June 2, 2018

Appropriate for mature tweens or teens

There was some violence that could scare younger kids. There was not much sexual stuff and when the rating said that Tammi was shown naked it was not in an sexu... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byhrose2903 June 2, 2018

Intense action meets sappy romance

Adrift is a very compelling and interesting true story. It's very well-acted and overall just created wonderfully. The sappy romance is balanced pretty wel... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bydramagirl05 June 2, 2018

So Good!

I LOVED this movie and it wasn't super inappropriate but Tami does get naked but you cant see any of her private parts and shes not doing it in an inapprop... 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

For kids who love true stories

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