Like Dandelion Dust Movie Poster Image

Like Dandelion Dust

Moving adoption drama tackles alcoholism, family violence.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's message is that the truest form of parental love is putting your child's welfare above your self interest. Also, recovery and rehabilitation from substance abuse isn't an easy process and takes determination, faith, and patience. And there are often setbacks, which require renewed efforts on the part of an abuser and their family. 

Positive role models

Two of the four parental figures in this film are caring, well-adjusted, and responsible most of the time. Another is loving, but inexperienced and ignorant of the full-range of commitment necessary. The fourth is an alcoholic whose problems overpower his desire to be a good parent. All of them come face-to-face with their limitations and ultimately are able to do the right thing for their child. The social services agency of the local government is portrayed as efficient, sensitive and having the best interests of the families at heart.


A leading character's injuries from spousal abuse are revealed after an attack. A brief tussle between two men results in a fall and facial injuries. A father roughly squeezes the arms of a 6-year-old boy during a heated argument. The same man shatters a mirror with his fist and reaches out to hit his wife as a scene ends.

Not applicable

"Pee," "butt."


Apple computer logo is visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol abuse and recovery are major story points. The alcoholic at the heart of this film can't maintain his sobriety and drinks heavily in several scenes. He also smokes throughout. Other characters drink wine in social settings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Like Dandelion Dust deals with mature themes: domestic abuse, alcoholism, and adoption. While most of the actual violence isn't shown on screen, the resulting injuries -- both physical and emotional -- are on display throughout (including a cowering wife, a father pushing and squeezing his son until he's bruised, etc.). A main character is an alcoholic struggling with sobriety; he smokes heavily, and, in at least one scene, he drinks until he's very drunk. The film is based on a novel by well-known Christian author Karen Kingsbury and has faith-oriented undertones.

What's the story?

After Wendy Porter's (Mira Sorvino) alcoholic husband, Rip (Barry Pepper), goes to prison for assaulting her, she discovers that she's pregnant. Forging Rip's signature on adoption papers, she gives Joey away at birth. The Campbells (Cole Hauser and Kate Levering) are ideal parents for the little boy, and he's loved and well cared for. Seven years later, when Rip is released from prison -- seemingly rehabilitated and ready to start a family -- Wendy tells him about Joey and the forgery. The two decide to try to find their child and get him back. Given misleading evidence, the law sides with the Porters and awards custody of Joey to them. But the Campbells are unwilling to give up the child they've raised and loved since birth. Each family uses every resource at hand to keep Joey with them. Events escalate, at great risk to the welfare of the little boy -- and both families.

Is it any good?


LIKE DANDELION DUST is a film made with integrity, strong performances from the players, and an effort to avoid the cliches and treacly melodrama often associated with movies of this genre. It's even-handed through at least two-thirds of the story, until the filmmakers "stack the deck" somewhat so that one family or the other can end up with Joey. Though made by a Christian production company and based on a novel by a well-known Christian author, the film stresses the human and societal implications of the dilemma and its resolution rather than the religious.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about alcoholism and its effects on the families of the alcoholic. Do you think this movie portrays alcoholism accurately? What resources are available for families or kids affected by alcoholism in your community? Is teen drinking a problem where you live?

  • Characters in the movie end up breaking the law in order to do what they think is the right thing. Did they have to face consequences for their actions?  Should they? Is there ever a good reason to break the law?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 24, 2010
DVD/Streaming release date:January 25, 2011
Cast:Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser, Mira Sorvino
Director:Jon Gunn
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic material, including domestic violence and alcohol abuse

This review of Like Dandelion Dust was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bykk2017 July 21, 2012


This is acceptable for kids 7 and up! It is a really good movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written bystripesanddots April 30, 2011

Great Movie for Mature Teens

While this movie was good and has great messages and an interesting storyline, it was extremely intense. One of the main characters is an alcoholic and is abusive. In the beginning of the movie, an entire table is filled with bottles of alcohol and one of the other main characters is badly injured from spousal abuse. The alcoholic character spends time in jail and seems to have changed, until he is later seen drinking again and abusing his wife again. He also hurts and scares his biological son, but it seems unintentional. There is one violent scene involving abuse which frightened me a little. In another scene, two men get into a fairly violent fight. On the other hand, the other main characters are good people who are fighting to keep their adopted son and the movie has on overall powerful, inspiring message. While I recommend this movie, I only do so for mature teens who can handle the violence and alcohol.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old April 20, 2011


I do not agree with Common Sense at all! They say it's "on" for 17+? Yes, it has drinking, but the movie has a touching and inspirational message.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages