A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Occasional but not frequent language includes "s--t," "bitch," "s--thead," "bulls--t," "damn," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
iPhone, MacBook, Ford Taurus wagon, Sonic Youth T-shirt.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Underage drinking at a music venue in a couple of scenes.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.