By Tracey Petherick,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bittersweet comedy drama has positivity, language, nudity.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Friendship and empathy are key themes throughout, as is the value of supporting one another through difficult times. The power of fun and laughter and how they can help you to feel brave and deal with your fears. The importance of seizing the day, living in the moment, and not letting your worries stop you from taking action. Also, what it means to live with anxiety and how to overcome it.
Positive Role Models
Ben and Mark as teens are lively and mischievous. But they're also supportive, caring, empathetic, and look after each other. As adults they're dealing with -- respectively -- anxiety and cynicism, but fundamentally they maintain their positive traits. At times Mark's attitude toward Ben seems unnecessarily cruel, although it is intended to motivate him. Sara and Jade are both independent and single-minded but also caring and supportive.
Violence & Scariness
Two characters suffer from cancer. Peril when a character threatens to jump off a roof and take another with them. Character punches a police officer, then the police grapple two people to the ground. Characters have an argument that ends in a fight, then later another scuffle. Spoiler alert: A main character is treated for late-stage cancer and is shown to be deteriorating. Though his death isn't shown his friends are seen mourning.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two teens run around a hospital naked with their buttocks and genitals blurred out. Characters briefly shown having sex, with their naked bodies partially covered by sheets -- a naked torso and back are shown. Cartoon drawing of a penis. Characters play a stripping game with a non-sexual vibe, but both end up in their underwear. Sex scene is filmed from behind and shows characters in their underwear. Characters on a beach in their underwear. Adult characters run through a hospital naked, showing their bare buttocks.
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Curse words are used casually and frequently throughout. Several instances of "f--k" and "f--king," "arse," "s--t," "bastard," "God," and "crap." Also "balls," "Jesus" as an exclamation, a two finger gesture, "t-ts," "t-t," "bulls--t," "shut up," and "idiot."
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Products & Purchases
Visible brands of well-known snack, beer, and beverage companies. A gambling company is on display at a dog racing track. Characters talk about gambling and winning money. They bet all their money on a dog and win. Later they throw the money all over a hotel room.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character takes wine to a friend's house, they are later seen drinking it. Character has a can of beer on the bus, during the day. Restaurant scenes show drinks on the table. Characters drink champagne at the dog race track and again later in a hotel where they pop a champagne bottle, dance around, and celebrate. Characters drink glasses of champagne on a boat ride.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Running Naked is a touching British comedy drama that deals with terminal illness and mental health, alongside themes of friendship, empathy, and seizing the day. Having survived cancer in their teens, Ben (Andrew Gower) and Mark (Matthew McNulty), now in their 30s, promise each other to make the most of life. Ben suffers from OCD and anxiety. There is plenty of casual strong language throughout, including "f--k" and "s--t," frequently delivered in a lighthearted context. Characters are shown naked, or partially naked, in several scenes for comedic purposes -- Ben and Mark are shown running naked through a hospital both as teens and as adults. There are also two brief, non-explicit sex scenes and one scene where someone punches a police officer. There are several instances of drinking alcohol and a gambling scene in which characters win lots of money. But overall the positive messages are the prominent themes with emphasis on the importance of nurturing your relationships and overcoming your fears. Spoiler alert: A main character's health detoriates due to late-stage cancer and eventually dies -- though his actual death isn't shown. His friends are seen mourning, but the scene is gentle and touching with an uplifting tone.
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What's the Story?
RUNNING NAKED tells the story of Ben (Andrew Gower) and Mark (Matthew McNulty), lifelong friends who met as teens when they were both being treated for cancer. Now in their 30s, they're dealing with the trials of adult life -- relationships, careers, and, in Ben's case, the challenges of his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). When they receive some bleak news, the two friends embark on a mission to live in the moment, discovering more about each other -- and themselves -- as they go.
Is It Any Good?
Serious themes are handled with a light touch in this comedy drama that manages to find humor in a story that hinges on some of the toughest subject matter -- terminal illness and mental health. Often emotional, sometimes bleak, but also punctuated by moments of joy, Running Naked is carried along at a pleasing pace by Gower and McNulty as Ben and Mark. From the way they bond as teens to the shift in their relationship as they hit their 30s, this archetypal "odd couple" maintain a friendship that is as unlikely as it is touching.
Like many of the best British indie movies, this production is not flashy or glamorous, but it feels real. Skillful cinematography finds the beauty in an ordinary world with clever scene setting, careful camera angles, and characters who are genuine and compelling. And while at times the narrative is unrefined, there is plenty of empathy and a strong sense of the value of human relationships. Fundamentally this movie is a journey of self-discovery for two people, both of whom just want to help a friend to live their best life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the positive messages in Running Naked. What did you take from the movie? Did you find it inspiring? Discuss how the movie balanced tragedy with optimism? Do you think it handled it well?
Would you describe Ben and Mark as good role models -- as teens and/or adults? How did they display traits such as courage, empathy, and compassion?
Talk about the way OCD is dealt with in the movie. Did you think Mark was a sympathetic portrayal of someone struggling with obsessive behaviors? What do you know about OCD as a mental illness?
Discuss the strong language in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
How was sex portrayed in the movie? Was it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
- On DVD or streaming: April 6, 2021
- Cast: Matthew McNulty, Andrew Gower, Tamzin Merchant
- Director: Victor Buhler
- Studio: Trinity Creative Partnership
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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