Now Is Good

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Now Is Good Movie Poster Image
Well-acted tearjerker about teen cancer has mature themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Now Is Good offers thought-provoking messages about what it means to really live, to take risks, to be happy, and to give one's life meaning, especially in the face of terminal illness or tragedy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters here are more well-rounded than usual, and present a full range of the complexity of humanity. Parents are flawed but present and struggle in their own way, and teenagers are curious, complicated, immature, deep, and ultimately, people searching for their own identity in the face of tragedy and loss. Though no one in the film always makes good choices, those choices are portrayed with compassion and understanding.


No physical violence, but mild peril throughout the film in the context of the protagonist's risky behavior against increasing ill health, minor drug use, and occasional wandering off alone. A girl pours a beer over the head of another girl at a party. Two girls steal a debit card from an ATM, but give it back. A teen girl rides on the back of a speeding motorcycle. A girl's profuse nose bleed produces a lot of blood and quite a scare. A teenage girl's death is shown as her drifting off, as if to sleep.


Sex or the suggestion of sex is a recurring theme in the film, and though there are multiple instances of teens kissing, and a few scenes where couples are shown in bed or lying entwined to suggest having had sex, it is never shown explicitly. The presumed use of condoms is depicted, and a parent tells her daughter to use condoms and have safe sex. A teen boy and girl strip down to their underwear and swim at night in the ocean. A subplot involves another teen girl finding out she is pregnant after having casual sex. A teen girl and her boyfriend are often shown sleeping in the same bed at night throughout her illness.



Mild profanity, such as "Jesus Christ," and "it scared the piss out of me," and "crap."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A 17-year-old girl admits she wants to try drugs before she dies. She admits to taking mushrooms, and is shown wandering through the woods while on drugs, and climbs a tree. Later, she attends a party for young adults that briefly shows heavy drinking and dancing.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Now Is Good is a tearjerker that explores the dying wishes and goals of a 17-year-old girl with leukemia who has forgone chemotherapy and wants to experience some wild living before she dies. It deals with mature themes about illness and loss (with one fairly graphic extreme nosebleed), teenage sexuality, as well as mild drug use and some illegal activity -- all of which are portrayed as both negative in terms of risk, but positive in terms of the sense of having lived a full life overall. In spite of the provocative nature of the premise, it's an incredibly uplifting, complex, and sweet film that packs a lot of innocence and meaning about the big questions, though it does likely sanitize the true nature of illness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written bymro15 August 23, 2016
This movie is heartbreakingly beautiful. You will find yourself laughing and crying along with each of the characters. I'm not one to cry often at movies,... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 1, 2015

What's the story?

Tessa Scott (Dakota Fanning) has leukemia, and has forgone treatment. Knowing she doesn't have much life left, she at first devises a bucket list of every imaginable thrill she can experience before time runs out -- trying drugs, losing her virginity, stealing, and falling in love with neighbor Adam (Jeremy Irvine). But while her mom (Olivia Williams) struggles to accept the reality of Tessa's condition, and her dad (Paddy Considine) grows increasingly fearful of losing her, Tessa learns a lot about what it really means to live and love.

Is it any good?

Adapted from Jenny Downham's novel Before I Die, the film is beautifully shot and superbly acted. If there was ever a way to explore the less comfortable side of healthy teenage desire -- to explore the world, to test boundaries, to take big risks, to live a little dangerously -- without the usual fear of worst-case scenarios or squeamishness, NOW IS GOOD is it, if only because the presence of terminal illness makes such risks seem like a quaint and necessary part of having lived. The movie shows a confrontational and sometimes dark but often humorous and wildly tender look at what it means to be alive, and, ultimately, what it means to die, all through the eyes of a teenager and those closest to her. 

Tessa's quest to fulfill her bucket list -- at first filled with wild and predictable thrills, but eventually shifting to the sweeter, quiet moments only nature and family provide -- offers an excellent source of discussion with teenagers about the things that matter most in life at a time when imagining past the next hour is often difficult. It's a brutally direct film that's hard to watch because it never pulls its punches about dying, but this makes it especially beautiful -- not to mention a near-constant tearjerker, even when it's upbeat. Full box of tissue required. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bucket lists. What are some of the things you'd like to do in your lifetime? 

  • How does Tessa's list change over the course of her illness? Why do you think it changed?

  • Everyone had a different way of responding to Tessa's illness -- some by doing everything they could to help, some by ignoring it. Why do you think people have such different responses?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate