If I Stay

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
If I Stay Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Heartbreaking but faithful adaptation will please book fans.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 51 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Heartfelt messages about love and relationships -- how meeting someone when you're young can make a long-term relationship more difficult, but it's still worth the risk if it's the real thing. Mia's open relationship with her parents shows how important it is for parents and kids to trust and understand one another. Adam shows Mia that people should love you for who you are, not for who they think you can change into.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although in many coming-of-age movies parents are portrayed as distant, insensitive, or antagonistic, Mia's are wonderful, and their relationship with her is everything a parent or teen could hope for: open, understanding, trusting, and encouraging. Mia is also a lovely and caring big sister to Teddy and a true best friend to Kim. Mia and Adam's relationship is on the intense side for a teen romance, but it's deep and mature, not just about looks or sex. They respect each other as musicians, and each understands that the other one's career might take them away, even if it hurts to consider separation. Mia's grandparents are also portrayed in a loving manner.


The car accident that kills members of Mia's family and leaves Mia in a coma is revisited several times throughout the film. These scenes are disturbing and upsetting. Mia's discovery of each death is heartbreaking, and her boyfriend, grandparents, and friends are also shown sobbing, embracing, and grieving the loss of their loved ones.


Adam and Mia have sex, and there are two love scenes -- both of which show the couple bare shouldered and either in bed or on the floor. Neither scene is gratuitous. It's mentioned that Mia was a virgin, while Adam was not. Also passionate kisses between the teens and between Mia's parents, who are very affectionate with each other.


Occasional but not frequent language includes "s--t," "bitch," "s--thead," "bulls--t," "damn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).


iPhone, MacBook, Ford Taurus wagon, Sonic Youth T-shirt.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking at a music venue in a couple of scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that If I Stay is a romantic teen tearjerker based on Gayle Forman's best-selling 2009 novel. It will appeal to the same audience as The Fault in Our Stars -- i.e., teens and adults familiar with the book or interested in coming-of-age romances. Because the story follows a young cellist (Chloe Moretz) who's comatose and must choose between life and death, there are understandably some upsetting and devastating sequences, including a fatal car crash that's revisited throughout the movie. Mia and her boyfriend Adam's (Jamie Blackley) love story is mature, passionate, and includes two non-gratuitous sex scenes (bare shoulders shown). The dialogue is occasionally punctuated with strong language like "s--t" and "bitch," and there are a couple of scenes of underage drinking in a music venue. If your teens have read the book or are ready for character deaths and near-death experiences, this is a poignant and romantic film that depicts one of YA's most beloved literary couples.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoshua martinez November 28, 2014

14 and up.

this love and emotional drama movie if i stay is one of the most touching and great movie to see stars with Chloe Moretz from the movie kick-ass this drama movi... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byGoodParent37 November 2, 2014

Good !

I think that this movie is good but could be better. My 11 year-old daughter saw it and I think it's not that appropriate for kids her age ! I think you sh... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 5, 2014

Chloë Grace Moretz deserves better.

I'm not the target audience for this movie, but I love Moretz, and she's really the best part of this movie. Like her other performances, she's g... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 25, 2014

Pretty Good

Just straight out- let me tell you that there is WAY more romance in the movie than there is in the book. Lots more kissing. I went to see this with my two frie... Continue reading

What's the story?

IF I STAY -- an adaptation of the emotional contemporary YA romance by Gayle Forman -- follows Mia Hall (Chloe Moretz), a brilliant 17-year-old cellist with an amazing life. She has an amazing rocker boyfriend named Adam (Jamie Blackley), cool parents, an adoring little brother, and a nearly assured acceptance to Juilliard. But then, on an unexpected snow day, the unthinkable happens, and Mia's family is involved in a fatal car accident. Standing over her comatose body, Mia realizes she can see what's happening to her from an in-between state of consciousness. She follows her body back to the hospital, where she learns the fate of her family and has flashbacks to memorable times in her life -- from learning the cello to falling in love with Adam. As Adam, Mia's grandparents, and her best friend, Kim (Liana Liberato), try to convince her to wake up, Mia must decide whether to fight and live or join her family in death.

Is it any good?

If I Stay won't work for everyone, particularly viewers who don't care about young adult romances, but those who give it a chance will be rewarded with one of YA's sweetest relationships. The two main characters are ably portrayed by Moretz and British newcomer Blackley. A musical theater vet, Blackley plays Adam more like an indie rock singer-songwriter than the alterno-punk version of him in the book, but he's still up there with Augustus Waters, Lloyd Dobler, Michael Moscovitz, and Patrick Verona as one of the best teen boyfriends in pop culture. This can be a heartbreaking story, but it's also hopeful. Mia's tale shows how transformative love and art are and how we're happiest with people who see and support what makes us unique.

Fans of the book will be understandably biased in their experience of the movie, because director Greg Berlanti has fully captured what author Forman calls "all the feels" of her book while still making a few necessary changes for the visual translation of the story. Moretz trained for six months to portray a cello prodigy, and it shows -- the scenes of her playing (even if a professional is what audiences hear) are beautiful and poignant. Admittedly the "in limbo Mia" conceit might seem overly sentimental, but as Mia's memories begin to unfold, viewers will be pleasantly immersed in her back story -- from her hipster parents (lovingly played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) to her awesomely supportive BFF Kim to her hilariously punk-loving baby brother, and, of course, her life-changing relationship with Adam.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether If I Stay is a successful adaptation. What changes did the filmmakers make? Do you understand why they made them? What parts of the movie captured the book best, and what parts of the book did you miss not seeing in the movie?

  • Do you prefer adaptations based on realistic fiction or based on genre fiction, like dystopian/paranormal stories? Why do you think there are so many YA adaptations out there?

  • How does the movie depict sex? Is Mia and Adam's relationship realistic? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Discuss the role of music in the movie. How is music a big part of Mia and Adam's romance?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and romance

Themes & Topics

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