Confessions of a Prodigal Son

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
Confessions of a Prodigal Son Movie Poster Image
Dull rehash of parable has lots of drinking, preaching.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 90 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Don't give up on yourself, even if you've made mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sean learns that it's OK to listen to others (God, adults) for guidance.


Two guys push and shove each other when drunk. Someone drives into a tree while driving drunk.


Flirting and casual views about sex by some characters, who are looking for one-night stands and hookups; talk about adult relationships; one character tries to kiss another.


Characters prominently use iPhones; Craigslist is mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking at college parties; some reckless behavior associated with drinking, such as drunk driving; recreational use of prescription pills in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a religious drama based on the biblical parable. This moralistic tale features quite a bit of irresponsible behavior by college students, including excessive drinking, recreational use of prescription drugs, and drunk driving, though consequences are shown for the bad behavior. There's also some sexual content, include talk of hooking up with girls, flirting, casual dating, and a few attempted kisses. Although the film has a positive overarching message, the mature content makes it best for young teens and up.

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What's the story?

Sean (Nathan Clarkson) is sick of his pastor father (Hercules' Kevin Sorbo) trying to direct his life, so he takes his college fund and sets off to live his own way. Now, two years later, he's going to school but mostly learning how to drink hard and hit on girls with his best friend Brian (Creagen Dow), until he meets the cute but reserved Ali (Rachael Lee). As they begin to spend more and more time together, Sean begins to question his path. Should his listen to Brian and escape from his disappointments by drinking and taking pills? Should he listen to his English professor, who tells him to find a higher power to guide the direction of his life story? Should he reconnect with his estranged family? Or should he follow Ali on her own path back to God as she struggles with her own insecurities?

Is it any good?

Although CONFESSIONS OF A PRODIGAL SON  has good intentions, it's a dull, dreary, heavy-handed movie that probably won't be very appealing to its target audience: struggling teens. Much of the movie is a series of voice-overs by Sean as he tries to figure out for himself -- and, in turn, educate the audience about -- how our choices mold and direct the story of our life. This metaphor is continued by Sean's English teacher, who seemingly spends the whole semester having the students work on some sort of autobiography but really just wants to yell at the students and threaten to give them bad grades if they don't believe the same things he does. The plot is very thin, repetitive, and uninspiring. Consequences for some of Sean's actions seem overblown, but other actions, such as driving drunk and crashing into a tree, only result in a neck ache, which seems unrealistic.

Although there's a nice message that no matter the mistakes you make, your family, friends, and God will forgive you, the original telling of the prodigal son tale is probably be a better vehicle for the message.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about authority figures. Do you think young adults need to figure out their own path? Or should they look to the authority figures in their lives (such as their parents, teachers, or God) for guidance?

  • Why do you think it was so hard for Sean to listen to the advice given by adults? Do you think most teens and young adults feel this way?

  • Do you think Sean should be forgiven for his actions? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teen tales

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