No Safe Spaces

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
No Safe Spaces Movie Poster Image
Overly long, illogical docu is long-winded and obnoxious.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Film attempts to make political point about restrictions on freedom of speech, but the fact that it was freely made undermines that point. Viewers may be inspired to learn more about the First Amendment and the Constitution and what they promise. Stories are carefully couched to make them sound especially outrageous -- if parents watch with teens, they may want to learn more about the free speech incidents detailed in the movie. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Short vignettes show pieces of Carolla's and Prager's backgrounds, but it's hard to know what to make of scenes of (Jewish) Prager singing cantor songs in a bugged hotel room in the USSR or Carolla's pre-pubescent red-pilling at the hands of a welfare cheat mom. Liberals are mocked as "social justice warriors": "Heroes who think that they're victims!" 

Violence

Long segments show violent protests: people being pushed, breaking window glass, setting objects on fire, screaming, holding signs,  running through streets while pursued by police officers in riot gear. Historical images and illustrations show atrocities like a pile of dead bodies at a prison camp, a guillotine with someone holding up a severed head. A person makes a joke about someone killing themselves to escape bad singing. 

Sex

Clips from an old Carolla-hosted TV show include women in skimpy costumes fanning Carolla as he reclines in a throne.

Language

Someone is called a "fascist," and another person refers to getting his "ass kicked" for his beliefs. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Prager smokes cigars theatrically and prominently in more than one scene. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that No Safe Spaces is a documentary about the supposed restrictions on free speech in modern America, particularly on college campuses. The film -- which is hosted by libertarian-leaning comic Adam Carolla and conservative talk show host Dennis Prager -- puts an unapologetically conservative spin on the issues it covers. The material is too mature for younger kids, since it requires some grasp of nuance to understand how the film carefully curates facts and experiences to present a particular point of view. Many scenes show violent protests, with police officers pushing protestors and protestors screaming, holding angry signs, breaking glass, and setting things on fire. Historical images and illustrations show a head severed in a guillotine and piles of bodies at a prison camp. One scene briefly shows women in skimpy costumes fanning Carolla as he sits on a throne. Language is very infrequent: "Ass" is the only curse word, and "fascist!" is about the extent of the hate speech. In more than one scene, Prager theatrically smokes a cigar. Viewers may be inspired to learn more about the First Amendment and the Constitution after watching. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7, 13, and 16-year-old Written byMadenb November 20, 2019

Entertaining, Informative, Timely. + Response to CSM "review"

My husband and I saw No Safe Spaces with our sons, ages 16 and 13. It was MUCH better than I expected. I have closely followed almost every story depicted, but... Continue reading
Adult Written byartfulhp October 30, 2019

First Amendment Truth

Well worth your time. I believe everyone should be aware of the manipulation going on, on college campuses and on our streets. It is impossible to learn witho... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bypryorssos October 28, 2019
Teen, 16 years old Written byLovejoycr November 2, 2019

Honest and interviews both sides of the isle

If your kid does not know much about government and rights, don’t take them, they wouldn’t fall asleep but they would be very confused. The “expert” reviewer de... Continue reading

What's the story?

According to NO SAFE SPACES, free speech is under fire in America, particularly on college campuses. And although comedian Adam Carolla and conservative talk show host Dennis Prager come from very different segments of the entertainment industry, they share a concern about what they see as a slippery slope. Through interviews with free speech pundits, animated segments that satirize political correctness, excerpts from Carolla and Prager's speaking tour on their "common sense values," and footage from relevant college campus protests, this documentary attempts to portray America as a country that's at a dangerous tipping point -- and headed in the wrong direction. 

Is it any good?

Though this film tries to make the case that free speech suppression is one of the most important issues facing our country today, ultimately it's long-winded, obnoxious, and unconvincing. The crux of No Safe Spaces' logical hole is that although Carolla and Prager work really hard to convince us that curtailing free speech is tantamount to fascism, they're making their points on a stage, to an audience, with microphones -- freely. If free speech is truly in such terrible danger, where are the protestors and police to stop this not-so-dynamic duo?

The filmmakers further attempt to prove their points by interviewing people whose experiences have been free-speech flashpoints: right-wing poster boy Ben Shapiro, attorney Alan Dershowitz, and Evergreen State University professor Bret Weinstein. But, again, as the interviewees expound, again, quite freely on what happened to them and why it matters, it's increasingly difficult to buy their victimhood. As an animated satire of Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just a Bill" says during No Safe Spaces, "You sure have to be careful what you say nowadays, or people will get offended!" Well, yeah. That First Amendment that Prager and Carolla seem to admire so much says nothing about offense. It promises that Congress will make no law abridging free speech -- not that speaking your mind won't earn you blowback. So while No Safe Spaces may feel comforting to some who feel vaguely victimized but aren't sure why, it's unlikely to win converts to its cause -- which was surely the whole point.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various goals of documentary filmmaking: to inform, to entertain, to persuade. What's the primary purpose of No Safe Spaces? How do you know? Why is it important to understand the filmmakers' purpose?

  • What are the differences between fact and speculation or opinion? What tools do we have to help us determine which is which?

  • Do you think the film's interviewees are objective? Why do you think the director didn't include any views that were different from his own? Are documentaries required to be objective? Why or why not?

Movie details

  • In theaters: October 25, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming: September 15, 2020
  • Cast: Adam Carolla
  • Director: Justin Folk
  • Studio: Atlas Distribution
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 95 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: some language and brief violence
  • Last updated: September 14, 2020

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