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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Mild profanity, such as "Jesus Christ," and "it scared the piss out of me," and "crap."
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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