A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Families look out for each other. Some people maintain their hope and/or humanity in seemingly dire circumstances. Kids can demonstrate bravery and problem-solving skills. An apocalyptic event like the one in the film could theoretically shut society down and destroy a significant portion of humankind in a matter of days.
Positive Role Models
Jill is a strong-willed survivor -- she has weathered rehab, the death of her soldier husband, and a court-ordered loss of custody of her two kids. She's also complicated: she still steals pills from her employer and sells them to a local drug dealer. And she's courageous: a former soldier herself, she's trained to keep her wits about her in a crisis, deal with death and injury, be skeptical, and know when to fight or run. Her kids are courageous and clever. Other people in the film are mostly untrustworthy or even violent due to the circumstances of the global event affecting them. The film's cast is diverse, and the lead character is a Latinx woman.
Violence & Scariness
Pretty constant and graphic violence throughout the film. A car crashes and plunges into water, its occupants barely escaping. A woman glues her own open face wound back together. She demonstrates how to shoot a gun and almost shoots her son by accident. Two kids die -- from drowning and electric shock -- and are brought back to life. A man describes what happens to people when they lose sleep, from brain swelling to a malfunctioning of organs and more. A woman is drowned on purpose, a man is shot in the head at close range, two men are found dead of gunshot wounds, a man stomps on a dying man's head, escaped prisoners threaten a family, people are losing their minds, a church group wants to sacrifice a child, a man crashes a pole through a pharmacy window, a lab chimpanzee's head is cut open while it is still awake, a girl is given ether and a doctor proposes cutting into her as well, strange-looking men hang other people by their feet, zombie-like people attack a family in car -- grabbing at them, breaking windows, and splattering blood. A false alarm and lack of sleep leads dozens of heavily-armed military personnel to go on a shooting spree, killing each other and themselves and leaving almost no survivors. A woman imagines her son trying to stab her. An old lady dies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A handful of naked adults stand in a road looking off in the distance. We see male and female nude bodies from the back and from the waist up. Matilda asks her brother whether he and his girlfriend ever "do it," then she teases he's never had sex and he says "I have!"
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Versions of "f--k" and "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," "bitch," "pr--k."
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Products & Purchases
Some clothing and car brands can be made out or are named. The US military plays a major role in the plot.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jill was in rehab and continues to steal and sell pills. The dealer she sells to tries to capitalize on people's need for sleep after the apocalyptic event by offering her more money to get "zombie pills" -- "downers, benzos, phennies, tooies, red jackets." There's a party happening in a park and people are drinking. Jill's mother-in-law has to inject herself with medication. Members of the military inject each other in the neck with a concoction meant to help stimulate the brain despite a lack of sleep. A pastor shows a little girl the tattoo on his arm that covers up the evidence of his past drug addiction.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Awake is a graphically violent and darkly suspenseful film with a strong but flawed Latina character as its lead. A global event wiping out electronics and making it so humans can't sleep means the characters are slowly going crazy from sleep deprivation. This affects different people differently, but most seem to get more violent. The film shows this graphically in shootings, drownings, car crashes, fights, electric shocks, and other gruesome deaths. A mob mentality seems to pervade, with a church group shouting to sacrifice a child, a bunch of people standing naked in the middle of the road (we see them from the back and from the waist up), and a group that tries to violently break into a car and drag a family out. The main character is trying to save her two kids, whom she's lost custody of due to a previous drug problem. She still sells pills to make extra money. A former soldier herself, she has survival skills that will help her, and her kids demonstrate bravery and quick thinking as well. There's quite a lot of swearing, including versions of "f--k" and "s--t," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," "bitch," "pr--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Gina Rodriguez gives a powerful performance as a flawed but resilient and courageous woman trying to save her kids, but other elements of this high-concept thriller fall short. Awake seems in a hurry to plunge us into mayhem at the expense of a bit more time spent developing its story and characters. Most people in the film, besides Rodriguez's Jill and her two kids, are introduced only to be killed off or promptly forgotten. This is disappointing in a couple of cases, where characters could be intriguing (like the mother-in-law, played by Frances Fisher, or Barry Pepper's pastor) or just deserve a more satisfying resolution (like Shamier Anderson's Dodge). The movie focuses squarely on the darker side of human nature, not just after the "event," when people are randomly and brutally killing one another, but even before. Jill has lost custody of her kids over an apparent drug problem and she continues to sell stolen pills, her husband died at war, her mother-in-law is sick and needs medicine, their pastor is a recovered drug addict with the scars to prove it, and so on.
Even the central concept of the film is given short shrift. The idea of what might have caused the apocalyptic scenario is briefly mentioned but not explored. It makes some sense that the sleep-deprived humans haven't fully figured out what happened in a matter of days, but it also feels like the writers just didn't deem an explanation necessary. Similarly, there is social critique implied in the film (a play on the idea of being "woke," a reference to the military's inhumane use of sleep deprivation during interrogation, a discussion of people believing repeated information as fact), but these are only dangled as ideas. Instead, the film lurches from one violent scenario to the next. Many of the film's scenes are indeed disturbing, especially when the young girl is involved, and the movie manages to sustain suspense and tension for most of its 97 minutes. At the very least, Awake won't put you to sleep.
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.