Gimme Shelter Movie Poster Image

Gimme Shelter



Abuse and teen pregnancy are themes in flawed family drama.
  • Review Date: January 23, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

No matter how bleak your situation, there's a way out if you ask for help and accept it when it's offered.

Positive role models

Apple is resilient and resourceful, two attributes that help her steer her future in the right direction. And when things begin to look up, she's grateful. The girls at the house are, for the most part, supportive.


An abusive mother screams and manipulates her teenage child, calling her useless and other names. Later, she attempts to cut someone's face with a blade (it's a brief scene, but she draws blood). A mother and her teenage child scuffle. One character has a car accident. Nothing gory is seen but it's clear it's bad.


There's talk of teenage sex and a teen is pregnant.


A fair amount of swearing, including "s--t" and "bitch." Young kids call a teen "stupid" to her face.


Some brand names and logos are seen, including Greyhound and Mercedes Benz.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A teenager sees her mother smoking pot and drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gimme Shelter is an earnest drama, inspired by real-life events, centered around a 16-year-old who's trying to flee from an abusive mother. It deals with fairly mature themes and involves intense situations -- including a feral fight between the mother and daughter, drug addiction and teenage pregnancy -- that may prove too heavy for some teens. There's swearing, including "s--t" and "bitch," a brief scene involving drug use witnessed by a minor, and sequences that show a parent verbally and physically abusing a child.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Agnes (aka Apple) Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) is 16 and tired. She's tired of living with a neglectful, drug-addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) and tired of feeling like she's all alone navigating an already compromised life. She sets off to find the father she never knew (Brendan Fraser), who got her mother pregnant when they were teens. And though he seems willing to help, he doesn't know how. Neither does his wife (Stephanie Szostak), especially when it becomes clear that Apple is pregnant. Apple's only hope may be a halfway house for pregnant teens run by a woman who once was homeless (Ann Dowd). But is it?

Is it any good?


Vanessa Hudgens is the high note in this well-meaning, but unexciting movie. She turns in a strong and energetic performance that ultimately suffers because of elementary filmmaking that lurches from one plot point to the next, revealing neither depth nor complexity. Rosario Dawson, too, is fantastic -- too bad the movie doesn't have the heft or grit her portrayal of a neglectful, abusive mother deserves.

The movie does uplift, but in that maddeningly unspecific, forgettable way that afterschool specials do. Had the characters been written with more layers and insight, and sans the heavy-handedness that afflicts it as it stands, GIMME SHELTER could've risen to its potential.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about abusive relationships. Why is it so difficult to get out of an abusive relationship? Does this movie accurately depict the difficulty of extracting oneself from abuse? If you witnessed abuse, who could you tell?

  • Does this film shed new light on the plight of abused kids, foster care, and teen pregnancy, or does it perpetuate the usual facts? Where can you find out more about these topics?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 24, 2014
DVD release date:April 29, 2014
Cast:Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Hudgens
Director:Ron Krauss
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Topics:Great girl role models
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence and language -- all concerning teens

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byasavge377 April 29, 2014

Powerful, but quite unexciting

GIMME SHELTER is an independent film about teen pregnancy and homelessness based on true events. I feel that this movie has a powerful message, but the plot just isn't very exciting; in other words, I felt that the story was slow and not as well-paced as it could have been. However, the movie did have a message that made me want to cry (especially at the end!) I would be cautious around younger children, hence my rating for 12+ children being the limit. The movie, as stated previously in another review, does NOT sugarcoat child abuse, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, or homelessness. GIMME SHELTER is unapologetically honest; you will see scenes with people using drugs, or parents abusing their children. Many of the situations the main character finds herself in are frightening. Though I would not suggest this movie for young children, I think this movie is fine for middle schoolers and older. It's not a "must-see," but it's powerful, and it definitely shows the audience how much potential Vanessa Hudgens has as an actress.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byhiphoph April 1, 2014

From Heartbreak to Hope

Gimme Shelter is an uplifting tale of a young woman. The movie doesn't sugarcoat the roughness of life, and didn't seem hugely preachy as some films have. Vanessa Hudgens really showed her strength and brought a raw emotion to her character. I cried several times during the film (and I'm someone who didn't cry during Titanic). The film shows both hope and heartbreak in our hard world. The plot was lovely (it's actually a true story). It was definitely one of the better films I've seen this year and it's story has stayed with me for months. However, there is some scary parts for younger children, along with swearing and the main girl's mother being an addict. I think it's a great film for preteens and teens, but I wouldn't show it to anyone below that age.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byHaithamB June 20, 2014

Better than expected!

The best way to describe Gimme Shelter, starring Vanessa Hudgens, a more tamed and flawed version of Precious. Gimme Shelter follows Apple (Played by Vanessa) as she escapes from her abusive mother to find her long gone father in New Jersey. The movie has some issues, it is rather rushed, it feels rushed and I can feel that the actors can not always manage to carry the tough roles correctly. Despite all of that, the actors did a great job in portraying the characters their given, Vanessa proves herself as a capable actress and all the actors ensemble did a really good job. The story is based on a true story, it is powerful, touching and disturbing at parts. Gimme Shelter is not Precious nor a perfect drama for teens, but it is a good touching little winner.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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