A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Teenagers are portrayed as kind, thoughtful, and full of youthful energy. Women should be judged on their own merit. We try on different versions of ourselves throughout our lives. People have to deal with grief and guilt in their own ways and on their own schedules.
Positive Role Models
Eli prompts Auden to live out some missing experiences, and she helps him process and move on from his grief. Mothers are shown to care for their offspring, sometimes compromising their own health in the absence of a participating father figure. Auden's mom is a respected professor; her dad is a writer. Maggie and friends bring Auden into their fold naturally and generously.
Cast of teenagers is diverse. One female friend is gay. One character speaks some Spanish. A girl rides a BMX bike like the boys.
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Violence & Scariness
A teen is still grieving his friend, who died when their car was hit by a drunk driver. Another teen has memories of her parents fighting and not providing her with a typical carefree childhood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss, including a scene in bathing suits in the ocean. Two characters spend the night together: The next morning she looks very happy and later says she "wanted to do everything they did." Teen girls dance sexily and talk about boys being "hot." A teen boy says "the honeys" like him.
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"F--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "sucks," "hell," "loser," "stupid," "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Products on store shelves, BMX, Mac, Vans.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink from tumblers at parties, someone mentions "keg stands," a parent drinks a beer with lunch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Along for the Ride is based on the novel by Sarah Dessen about two misfit teens who make a connection the summer before college. They drink with friends at parties, kiss, and spend one night together, though it's never made explicit what happens between them. Teenagers are portrayed as kind, thoughtful, and full of youthful energy. The two struggling to fit in for very different reasons help each other mature through their problems. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "sucks," "hell," "loser," "stupid," and "oh my God." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Buoyed by a steady pace and restrained lead performances, this film crafts a gentler, calmer world than many teen films. That doesn't mean that Along for the Ride is entirely lighthearted: The main characters are both dealing with letting go of rigidity or stress to live more happily and freely. In subtle but effective ways, writer-director Alvarez shows how carefree and cheerful life could be for happy, healthy teens, a helpful reminder in stressful times. The most memorable is an overhead shot of a pile of content kids lying on each other at the beach watching fireworks above. Other scenes show as Auden begins to loosen up and enjoy real friendship with the energetic trio of local girls. Pasarow's facial expressions and body language convey even slight evolutions of character.
The film hints at realistic facts of teen life, like sex, drinking, and differing sexual orientations, but it opts not to explore these more fully. Characters drink out of tumblers and carry what looks like a six-pack in a paper bag into a party; they spend the night together without specifically revealing what happened; they talk about same-sex crushes without showing any actual same-sex couples. But this works for the story and doesn't feel like obfuscation. The film has a woman's perspective -- on relationships, motherhood, and divorce -- but the male characters are likable and show evolution as well. Veterans MacDowell, Mulroney, and Bosworth deliver understated performances that complement the discovery of newcomers, led by Pasarow, Cameli, and Kariuki.
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.