One Day

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
One Day Movie Poster Image
Book-based drama is too heavy for younger teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Although the movie's overall message is that friendship and love endure when you put in the effort (and that you should figure out who you want to be and what you want to do and commit to those goals), there's a troublesome subtext to Dex and Em's relationship that implies that if girls are just patient with a guy they like who's treating them poorly, someday he'll come around.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emma is more of a positive role model than Dex -- she's earnest and caring, albeit self-conscious and not particularly self-confident (and even she is sometimes cruel to those who care for her). And though Dex has his share of issues (womanizing, drinking, etc.), he softens around her; he wants to be his best for her -- at least most of the time. They clearly care about each other, and they support each other through various challenges, but they're not always nice to each other. Still, they try to understand each other. It's an uneven, though often admirable, friendship, and it's also fairly honest.


Dex is beaten up by a guy at a bar when he hassles the guy's girlfriend. Some yelling between two people who are arguing in a restaurant. A brutal, sudden accident has tragic consequences.


Brief full nudity, including shots of a woman from the back/side as she struts in front of a man who's sitting on a bed under the sheets, and a man jumping into the water to skinny dip (viewers see his full length from a distance). Visitors to a nudist beach are also shown naked. A woman strips to her underwear and later takes off her bra and everything else (we don't see her fully naked). Discussions about group sex and sex toys and one character’s promiscuity. A married woman has an affair.


Language is infrequent but includes "f--k," "bastard," "prick," "damn," "hell," "oh God" (as an exclamation), and more.


Calvin Klein and Armani are name-dropped by a character who appears to value labels and wears them as a badge of honor.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dexter falls into a drunken haze that lasts years, during which he behaves badly toward those he loves, including his best friend, Emma. A handful of scenes show him inebriated or going on a bender, both with alcohol and, at least once, with cocaine. Additional social drinking; characters are shown swigging wine from a bottle and taking shots.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie based on the beloved novel by Davis Nicholls is an honest examination of the years-long friendship between two people (played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) who are attracted to each other but unable, at least at first, to recognize their significance to each other. Although it's rated PG-13, the movie deals with mature topics like infidelity, alcoholism, and death. There's quite a bit of sexual content (including brief full nudity), and one of the main characters spends a large part of the movie in a drunken haze. Although the themes may well be relatable for older teens, younger viewers might not appreciate the enormity of the highs and lows of the characters' friendship -- and the realistic depiction of the damage people can inflict even to those they love most. And some teen girls might come away with the idea that if you just wait long enough, the guy you like is sure to come around.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhelenmirrenrox August 24, 2011

Good Movie but too much sex and swearing

Sex- 14+. There is a scene where we see a woman's back end. There is a scene on the beach where men barbieque nude and you see there back ends. A man'... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byozera2008100 March 13, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written byermoisley325 May 28, 2020

Great movie!

I think that One Day was a really good movie! I watched it with my older sister. I can see why kids under 13 would feel uncomfortable if they watched it with th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet during a university graduation celebration on St. Swithin's Day -- July 15, 1988. Though they nearly sleep together, they ultimately don't, instead spending the night talking and forming the foundation of a curious and evolving friendship. Over the next two decades, they forge their separate paths -- Dexter as a too-hip TV presenter, Emma first as a reluctant restaurant waitress/manager and, later, a teacher and writer. They date others and even fall in love, but through it all their friendship endures, sometimes under the most vexing circumstances. Will they ever realize they're meant for each other? Are they? And if they do, what happens next?

Is it any good?

Unlike David Nicholls' book, this movie adaptation isn't a romance for the ages, sadly. Following in the footsteps of a beloved book is always challenging; how to infuse the cinematic version with the nuance and vision it deserves? The once-a-year check-in that gives the novel structure hampers the momentum here, and the chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess comes and goes -- a crucial flaw in a movie like this.

That's not to say that One Day is a failure; it has enough charm and commitment to power it through. The dialogue, written by Nicholls, feels authentic and is often funny, and the actors are eager to inhabit their characters. And then there's the story -- it's still compelling, relatable, and moving (clunky surprise ending notwithstanding).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Dex and Em's friendship. Is it believable? Relatable? Are they equals? Is it important for people in a close friendship to have an equal stake in their relationship?

  • What messages does the movie send about love? Do you think love is worth more when you have to work hard to achieve it?

  • How does the movie depict Dex's drinking? Are the consequences of his behavior realistic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love love stories

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