Carrie Pilby

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Carrie Pilby Movie Poster Image
Teen genius learns to live life in so-so book-based dramedy.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You have to put yourself out in the world to fully experience life, even if that means risking rejection and pain. The payoff will eventually be worth it. You also can't let others define you or hold you back -- or expect you to conform to their expectations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carrie is far from perfect, but she has generally good intentions and learns to face some difficult truths about her past. In the process, she learns some key emotional lessons about how to connect with other people. She has a strong moral code and high expectations for others and is very disappointed when they fail to live up to them. Many of the male characters in the movie either cheat on their significant others or intend to.


Arguments. In one scene, a man gets punched in the face, leaving his nose bloodied.


Discussion about Carrie's limited sexual experience; additional sexual references. Two scenes show her with men: In one, she's lounging in bed talking with a man, both seemingly nude under the covers. In the other, she's passionately kissing a guy, partially undressed and wearing a bra.


Infrequent use of words including "s--t," "f--k," "bastard," and "a--hole."


The main character has an iPhone.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking at bars and parties. One scene features an older man plying a teenage girl with wine. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carrie Pilby is about a 19-year-old Harvard graduate (played by Bel Powley) who's book smart but emotionally stunted and socially isolated. Based on a teen novel by Caren Lissner, this quirky dramedy has a few emotionally charged moments when Carrie confronts tough incidents from her past while learning to open up and form friendships in the present. There's occasional swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), a bit of drinking (some by an underage character), and a few scenes that show people fooling around (nudity is implied, but nothing graphic is shown). But for the most part, it's appropriate for the high school audience that might have enjoyed the book. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBobHardy February 15, 2021

Suitable for 12 year olds

Good to watch my kids enjoyed it lots. Suitable for 12+ and mature 11 year olds.
Adult Written byStephen L. May 16, 2018

Move along now, no Insight here

This film (maybe the book, too) doesn't give any insight into how a really intelligent woman might behave. If it were, you'd be thinking "hey th... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

CARRIE PILBY (Bel Powley) is a prodigy, a brilliant 19-year-old Harvard graduate (she skipped several grades) who relates better to books than to people. Now she's living on her own in New York, and her therapist (Nathan Lane) challenges her to make a list of things to accomplish between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The idea is to get her out of her apartment so she can actually make some friends and live her life. In the process, she learns that, yes, socializing can be scary, but also rewarding. She also discovers that some guys are indeed a bit creepy, but there are a few worth meeting. And when her dad (Gabriel Byrne) comes to town for a surprise visit, she's forced to confront a few other tough lessons from her past.

Is it any good?

Credit goes to Powley for elevating this dramedy from a standard-issue coming-of-age story to one that's more complex -- or at least one that attempts to be. Her Carrie feels like a real person struggling to figure out how to be a person, despite what turns out to be some pretty hefty baggage shaped by real struggles. Nonetheless, the movie gives considerable weight to an ill-advised -- and unequal -- relationship that develops while Carrie is in college but manages to gloss over a profound loss that happens long before that and could very well have shaped it. And that ends up stripping some gravity from the film that it could have used. 

Much is made in the film of Carrie's smarts, but her brilliance is used more as a device than as a true foundation for making the character more multi-layered. After all, Powley's talent as an actress can't make up for a flimsy script and underwritten characters. It's a shame, as Carrie -- and Carrie Pilby -- deserved better. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Carrie Pilby's messages. What does it have to say about relationships? About emotional risk?

  • What does Carrie learn over the course of the movie? Why is it so hard for her to open up to others?

  • Are the characters in the film realistic? Which ones are role models? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

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