Barely Lethal

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
Barely Lethal Movie Poster Image
Homage to teen movies has comic violence, sex, profanity.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Popularity isn't everything. Family sticks together and supports each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Megan supports her friends and encourages Liz to be herself.


Kids are trained to be assassins. Lots of comic fight scenes but nothing graphic. Someone gets stabbed in the leg with a corn dog and knocked unconscious. Lots of guns, grenades, and other weapons, though most are never used. Talk of killing people, and guns are held to characters' heads, but no one is killed on-screen.


Lots of innuendo and jokes about sex and genitalia, including a running gag about Regina, Canada, rhyming with vagina. A girl gets a penis drawn on her face. A few kisses between teens.


"Bitch" (many times), "f--k," "dick," "s--t," "a--hole," "dammit," "hell."


Lots of references to teen movies such as Clueless, The Breakfast Club, and Mean Girls. A few obvious product placements such as Quiznos drink cups and a reference to Sbarro pizza.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink at a party, one until she's drunk. References to bath salts and marijuana. Megan gets injected with truth serum and acts drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Barely Lethal is a star-studded spy comedy featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba, and Hailee Steinfeld (of True Grit fame). Though it's about training kids to be assassins, the film is comedic, not graphic. There are a lot of fight scenes and weapons (including grenades, guns, and knives), but the violence is slapstick and over the top, not scary. Still, there's a lot of innuendo -- including many jokes about genitalia -- and talk of sex, some drinking, and a few references to drugs. There's also quite a bit of swearing ("f--k" once, "bitch," "ass," and the like many times), making this comedy best for teens and up. Fans of classic teen movies will enjoy the many references to favorites such as The Breakfast Club and Clueless, though they may be less pleased with a few obvious product placements for fast-food brands.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysapphire_fire April 27, 2018


It's a typical tale about high school stereotypes. It's just so boring. It contains a lot of sex too. The main character gets sexually harassed, by a... Continue reading
Parent Written byShawnda72 March 18, 2020

Don’t let your children watch this

It does have a lot of sexual reference and also it allows a child to use the f bomb. It uses god***n.
Teen, 14 years old Written byLoveHope8372 August 12, 2018

Great movie

It’s a great movie to watch in the weekend, and has a good plot. It’s nothing killing involved, and I think it’s a great movie for tweens and teens..
Teen, 13 years old Written bysavage101 March 15, 2017

Best movie ever!

This movie have a few violent scenes but it is also really funny! Me and my friend were watching it and couldn't stop laughing!

What's the story?

Number 83 (Hailee Steinfeld) is an orphan who's been trained from childhood to be an assassin, and she's at the top of her class, even if what she really wants is a normal life. While on a mission to take out the villain Knox (Jessica Alba), 83 decides to fake her own death and take on a new identity as Megan, a foreign exchange student from Canada. But while Megan knows how to take out any opponent with a pen, she's not quite sure how to navigate the social hierarchy of high school, even with a little help from some classic teen movies. As she starts to get the hang of hanging out with the cool kids, she soon realizes that her old life isn't so easily left behind and she'll need to use her training to keep her newfound friends and family safe.

Is it any good?

Although it tries really hard to cleverly poke fun at all the clichés you usually find in teen movies, this sometimes-funny comedy ultimately falls victim to them. Though we see that not all high school kids fit the stereotypes, the plot insists on sticking with tired formulas such as the love triangle among the girl, the nerd, and the most popular boy in school. BARELY LETHAL is often laugh-out-loud funny, but the characters are underdeveloped and one-dimensional, and most of the plot points feel like add-ons that are never fully developed. And with the movie continually referencing classics such as The Breakfast Club, it sets itself up for failure from the beginning.

Fans of teen movies are better off sticking with ones that work -- for example, Clueless or Mean Girls. And those looking for some spy-comedy fun are better off giving Grosse Pointe Blank a try.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the teen movie genre. Why do you think there are so many movies made about being in high school?

  • Megan really wants to have a traditional high school experience. Do you think there's a universal high school experience? Do you think it's important to have that experience?

  • What's your favorite teen movie? Why is it your favorite?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen tales

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