New Life

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
New Life Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming message, but romantic drama falls flat.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

No matter what kind of curve ball life throws your way, you just have to roll with it and move on. 

Positive role models & representations

Ben and Ava share a warm and loving relationship and are clearly head-over-heels for each other. Even when they disagree, they manage to work out their differences with compassion and empathy. 

Violence

After suffering a terrible tragedy, a distraught man takes out his frustrations by tearing a boat apart.

Sex

A loving couple shares a few warm kisses. Once married, it's implied (but never specifically mentioned or shown) that they have a healthy, active sex life, especially once they decide to have kids.

Language

One character exclaims "oh God" during a heated moment. 

Consumerism

Some characters drive Cadillacs; one is shown using an iPhone. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink wine at meals. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that New Life focuses on the relationship between a loving couple -- and how they weather the ups, downs, and unexpected curve balls life throws at them. Although there's a tragic twist (which drives a sad character to destruction in a few scenes), overall it's a family-focused film with a solid marriage at its center. Language is limited to one "oh God" said in a heated moment, and while the main characters are very affectionate (and it's implied they have a healthy sex life), there's no nudity or racy content. There's also no drugs or smoking and barely any drinking, so it's appropriate for tweens and up. And it ultimately has a strong message of optimism.

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What's the story?

In NEW LIFE, Ben (Jonathan Patrick Moore) and Ava (Erin Bethea) meet as children. As they grow up, their love for each other deepens. As adults, they learn to navigate the responsibilities that come with developing a career while also nurturing a healthy marriage. And then one day an unexpected calamity threatens to derail everything they've built together. 

Is it any good?

This is a pretty simple tale, told in a pretty simple way, with nothing that makes it particularly special or refreshing. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl face adversity. That's about it. It doesn't help that New Life seems to have forgotten that basic storytelling direction: Show, don't tell. Instead, it relies too much on explanatory dialogue and voiceover, and there's not much variation in how scenes play out. And while Moore and Bethea seem to be putting in their best efforts, their chemistry is only so-so; sparks don't fly.

Yes, the movie has a fundamentally inspiring message: Keep going, no matter what kind of hardship comes your way. But the execution is flawed, and there's little here that makes Ben and Ava's story truly compelling to watch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how New Life compares to other films that focus on healthy, happy relationships. How do filmmakers create drama when characters seem to have few problems? 

  • What makes the central characters role models? What positive character strengths do they exhibit?

  • What audience do you think the movie is intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love drama and romance

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