Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Paradise Movie Poster Image
Wild Vegas night of drinking, self-discovery is so-so.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Life can be fun and exciting, even activities that others might consider "bad." Lamb, who's led a very sheltered life, is out to see for herself whether the things she's been taught are as wrong and heinous as she's been told. It's a good idea, and even though she realizes her parents were right in some ways, it's still better that she can make that decision on her own, based on her own experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lamb is clearly a positive, optimistic person, even though she is deviating sharply from her parents' very narrow definition of what "good" people do. She's without guile or agenda, and genuinely cares for other people. She wants nothing more than to learn what life has to offer.


Some flirtation, a bit of innuendo, and a brief kiss. A group of women at a bachelorette party drink liquor from penis-shaped containers.


Occasional swearing, including "bitch," "ass," "d--k" and "s--t."


The Las Vegas Palms casino plays an important role in the story. Many well-known brands are mentioned by name, including Google, Kroger, L.L. Bean, Twinkies, Disneyland, Red Lobster, and Fisher Price. One character has an iPod.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes take place at bars and nightclubs with people drinking heavily. The main character gets extremely drunk and then throws up a trash can, barely able to maintain her composure -- but it's a learning experience for her. Two people are briefly seen smoking a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Paradise follows a sheltered young woman, aptly named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who sets off for Las Vegas on a mission to discover everything she'd been kept away from by her strict religious upbringing. She's joined by a lounge singer and a bartender (Octavia Spencer and Russell Brand) for a wild night that includes plenty of drinking, a big cigar, sexual innuendo, some mild swearing, a very small tattoo, and some important moments of self discovery, in screenwriter Diablo Cody's directing debut.

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What's the story?

A tragic plane accident has left Lamb (Julianne Hough) badly burned and quite rich from a settlement. It also leads her to question God and repudiate her strict religious upbringing. She sets off for -- where else? -- Las Vegas to discover everything that's been missing in her life. She'd be lost in the big city if not for a lounge singer (Octavia Spencer) and a bartender (Russell Brand), who act as both tour guides and caretakers, keeping an eye on the innocent young girl during a long night of debauchery. Hungry for experiences, Lamb starts checking off vices, including liquor, tobacco, pornography, and even a (very small) tattoo, but she still has to figure out whether this journey will lead to her more authentic self.

Is it any good?

Las Vegas is seedier and less than PARADISE in this disappointing film, though that shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone. However, it's all new and exciting for Lamb, who's led a sheltered life and is initially overwhelmed and amazed by the glitz and glamor of the big city.

Hough means well, but playing the naif isn't her strong suit, which hampers an already hobbled movie. She has to stretch to show any more depth as her character starts to grow, though writer-director Diablo Cody takes a tell-not-show approach that makes the entire enterprise feel unimaginative and uninteresting. (In a word: meh.) It's a shame: Cody's script has great potential starting from the premise. But a poker-chip-thin characterization by Hough and an unshakable obviousness in the dialogue mitigates its potential.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about the messages in the movie. What did Lamb learn about the world and herself? What kinds of experiences do you want to explore? What did she learn in the end?

  • Teens: Which of your parents' beliefs do you want to challenge? Which do you expect will stick with you forever?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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