Alright Now

Movie review by
Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media
Alright Now Movie Poster Image
British feel-good '90s nostalgia comedy has drinking, sex.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The overall tone is frivolous and superficial. However, a key takeaway is the concept that beauty is not skin deep. Themes include supporting your friends and appreciating the value of family and friendships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pete contradicts the stereotype of a romantic male lead -- he is scruffy and overweight but nonetheless has a hidden charm. Joanne is feisty and fun-loving, but although outwardly confident she also displays insecurity and self-doubt. Her best friend Sara is generally warm, loving, and supportive -- although there are hints of jealousy or possibly unrequited love.

Violence

Character loses their temper and smashes their guitar.

Sex

Lots of sex chat throughout including talking about masturbation and "sexually active friends." Characters have a "jokey" bet on who can have sex with someone first, saying, "first penis in your body gets £50." Several scenes with simulated sexual acts -- character standing behind another and grinding, character waggling their tongue between their fingers to show oral sex, and poking their finger into a hole made by their thumb and forefinger. Many scenes in which characters strip down to their underwear -- a bare bottom is briefly seen. Two characters strip to their underwear and are kissing on a bed. One attempt at a foursome that doesn't happen but involves kissing and partial nudity.

Language

Liberal use of "f--k" throughout, including "f--k you" and "f--king pr--k." Also "goddam," "piss," and "s--t." British slang such as "shagging" and "frigging" also used.

Consumerism

Peroni lager is drunk frequently throughout, along with other beer brands that are less obvious. Jacobs Creek wine appears briefly. Character orders a Monkey Shoulder whisky in the pub.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol -- sometimes heavily -- throughout the movie, resulting in slurring, talking nonsense, struggling to stay upright, falling over, and becoming verbally abusive. At one point a character downs a pint of beer, and also drinks straight from a bottle of wine. Occasional cigarette smoking. Some discussion about taking drugs -- a character simulates snorting coke. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alright Now (also known as Songbird) is a no-frills British comedy-drama about a washed-up 1990s pop star who can't let go of her wild child past. Set on a college campus, there are scenes of heavy drinking throughout, many of which are presented in a positive "party time" manner. The main character, Joanne Skye (Cobie Smulders) gets drunk on several occasions, behaving obnoxiously and embarrassing herself. A variety of alcohol brands are also clearly depicted throughout. Joanne is playful and spirited but also desperate for attention. With frequent swearing, numerous conversations about sex -- including group sex and masturbation -- and reference to drugs, the movie is not suitable for tweens or younger. But the overall tone is frivolous and many of the characters, though flawed, are relatable. Fundamentally this is a love story with a positive message -- that romance can happen between the most unexpected people.

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What's the story?

ALRIGHT NOW tells the story of Joanne Skye (Cobie Smulders) the aging lead singer of a once great 1990s "Britpop" band. When she finally accepts that the band is breaking up, she needs a career change and her best friend Sara (Jessica Hynes) drunkenly persuades her to enroll at a university in an English seaside town. Making friends with the scruffy but warm-hearted Pete (Richard Elis) Joanne begins to reassess her life, realizing she might need to let go of the past if she's going to find happiness.

Is it any good?

Filmed over just five days this film must have been made on a shoestring, but what it lacks in big-budget grandeur it makes up for in warmth and realism. Filled with typical British humor -- awkwardness, self-deprecation, sarcasm -- this tale of unexpected romance was part improvised, and it shows. In the capable hands of Smulders, Hynes, and Elis, the characters feel like real people having real conversations -- with all their flaws on display. Joanne (Smulders) can be juvenile, needy, impulsive, and overly flirty -- but she's also full of energy, perseverance, and blind confidence. Pete (Elis) is the ultimate lovable "scruff bag" and you're rooting for him right from the off. 

An indulgent 1990s nostalgia trip for anyone over 35, Alright Now might not hold much appeal for younger viewers. It's not glamorous, or particularly well-polished. But it is genuine and authentic -- and for all the romantics out there, it has a refreshingly simple happy ending. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how alcohol is depicted in Alright Now. Do you think the movie glamorizes drinking, or is it shown in a negative way? Does it feel realistic? 

  • Discuss the movie's attitude toward sex. Do characters seem more interested in casual sex or in establishing deeper connections? Does this change throughout the movie?

  • Do you think the characters in the movie are good role models? Joanne is fun and feisty but also needy and attention-seeking. Talk about their flaws as well as their qualities. Does this make them more relatable?

  • Talk to your kids about the concept of beauty in movie and TV characters. Do characters need to fit certain ideals in order to be considered attractive? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music and romance

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