Now Is Good

  • Review Date: April 29, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Well-acted tearjerker about teen cancer has mature themes.
  • Review Date: April 29, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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

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.

 

Language

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

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

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Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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. Adapted from Jenny Downham's novel Before I Die, the film is beautifully shot and superbly acted, and 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. 

Families can talk 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

DVD release date:January 18, 2013
Cast:Dakota Fanning, Olivia Williams, Jeremy Irvine, Paddy Considine
Director:Alex Kurtzman
Studio:Sony Pictures
Genre:Drama
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving illness, sexuality, and drugs, and for brief strong language.

This review of Now Is Good was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old January 1, 2015
AGE
2
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written byKhalila_Pringle September 13, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Great!!!

I watched this yesterday and I couldn't stop crying towards the end...personally I think its because they focus more the struggles of having cancer then just looking at the romance side to it all the time which Is why I believe it got to me a lot more than TFIOS did. Also I think the themes may be a bit to mature for anyone under 14.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 15 years old Written byMaryabad June 29, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Better than TFIOS

A week ago, I watched a film called "The Fault In Our Stars." I did enjoy the cute, romantic-ness of the film. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I began to watch more cancer films. I watched my sisters keeper first, though, it wasn't really my thing. Then, I googled a few other movies about cancer and found "Now is Good." Now, my first impression of the movie was that it looked extremely boring... But, my guts told me to watch it! And when I watched it, it was definitely NOT what I expected. I cried all throughout the movie, I laughed, and I got hooked with the entire plot. The movie is very REAL. They showed exactly how cancer is. The directors portrayed it very well. Let's not forget about the actors! They are well fit for their characters. I understand that The fault in our stars is a good film but, I do believe this one is better. In TFIOS, they focused on the romance A LOT. While in Now is Good, they focused on the real hardships of cancer and a hint of love! Perfect mix. I am very upset though, TFIOS got more publicity because of the actors, and the hipster book. No offense, but I know a lot of people that love this movie better compared to TFIOS. They pretended to like TFIOS just to bandwagon.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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