A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's OK to accept a helping hand and to be different. Treat people kindly, and they'll likely reciprocate. Work to find hope in dark times. A diverse friend group includes different races, abilities, economic statuses, and genders. Teenagers can be trustworthy, kind, and hardworking.
Positive Role Models
Amber and her mom are sleeping in a school bus because they've hit hard times, but Amber is always upbeat, works several jobs outside of school, and does nice things for other people. Her mom is unable to pull her life together to care for her daughter, at least in part due to a drinking problem. Amber has a hard time accepting gifts or help from other people, though she has a caring group of friends who want to help. She also has support from a teacher and an older woman she's become close to at a nursing home where she works. All of these people show great empathy toward her when she's struggling. Diverse characters.
Violence & Scariness
Amber's dad died when she was 12; the family fell on hard times as a result. She's scared to stay at her mother's on-again/off-again boyfriend's house because he's a heavy drinker and has hit her mother before. Two key adult characters die in a car crash, which isn't shown on screen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Amber has a crush on Ty, holds his hand, and kisses him once. Her older friend Joan asks if they've "hooked up."
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"Ass." "Suck." "Hell."
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Products & Purchases
Carnegie Mellon University. VW Westfalia. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Lyft. Portland, Oregon. Annie's Donuts (in Portland).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Amber's mom Becky has a drinking problem, which the two argue about whenever Becky arrives late or appears to have had a drink or two. She had gotten sober but started drinking again when she got back together with a heavy-drinking ex-boyfriend. Amber tells her mom she "needs help." A song mentions wine and tobacco.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All Together Now is an uplifting teen tale based on Matthew Quick's novel formerly titled Sorta Like a Rock Star. It has some sad scenes that could upset sensitive viewers. Main character Amber (Moana's Auli'i Cravalho) repeatedly faces challenges, setbacks, and tragedies that no kid or teen should have to suffer, including the death of parents and being unhoused. Events spiral out of control in part because of her mother Becky's (Justina Machado) dependence on alcohol. Becky's drinking is discussed but not shown; the same goes for her abusive boyfriend. Still, Amber maintains a positive outlook and works hard, eventually learning to accept help from her diverse group of friends when she needs it most. It's implied that one of her friends is on the autism spectrum; another uses a wheelchair. There's one brief kiss, and language is limited to "ass," "suck," and "hell." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This heartwarming tale is held together by a strong central performance from Hawaiian-born actress Cravalho. The film touches on the very real issue of teens being unhoused, but not in a didactic way. In fact, Cravalho (best known as the voice of Moana) infuses Amber with such energy as a well-adjusted, cheerful, and kind young woman, despite her hardships, that you can't help liking her. The film and Cravalho do a crafty job pulling you in so that you're invested when things take a turn for the worse, which they definitively do in this story based on the YA novel Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick, who also wrote The Silver Linings Playbook.
Some audiences will be drawn to All Together Now by the high-profile supporting actors, namely Carol Burnett and Fred Armisen. Neither has an especially standout role, and Armisen in particular feels under-used. The iconic city of Portland, Oregon, is also under-exploited as the setting. Two other recent releases come to mind as making more of their Pacific Northwest backgrounds: Netflix's drizzly Washington-set The Half of It and Disney's quirky Portland-set Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. Lyrics on the soulful soundtrack notably echo the storyline.
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.