Safe Haven Movie Poster Image

Safe Haven

Predictable romantic drama deals with pretty heavy themes.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Safe Haven's message is heartwarming to the core: Surround yourself with kind, good people, and you can emerge from the darkness that you may find yourself in. But you also have to learn to trust and give to others.



Positive role models

Katie is resilient and resourceful and doesn't shy away from the hard work of rebuilding her life. Alex doesn't let his grief overwhelm his ability to be a good father.


Some suspenseful/intense moments. A man stalks a woman; he also tries to choke her and roughs her up. Later, he points a gun straight at her and brandishes it around. A fire consumes an entire building and threatens the lives of three people in or near it. A boy slips on a boat and hits his head, nearly drowning. A woman is shown with a bloodied knife in her hand and stabbing a man with it.


A couple is shown presumably having sex under the covers, but viewers see only their bare shoulders. Some passionate kissing.


Infrequent use of words including "s--t," "hell," "crap," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," and "for Chrissakes."


Logos for Chevrolet, Jeep. The Roxy clothing brand is mentioned during a shopping scene.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is an alcoholic who drinks vodka while driving. He's violent while inebriated. Some beer drinking at social events.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Safe Haven (based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks) is a romantic, at times suspenseful drama that's heavy on cliches and formulaic plot twists and light on chemistry and inventiveness. While the romantic stuff is pretty tame for teens, save for one session in bed that reveals bare shoulders, the film does deal with heavy subjects such as death and spousal abuse. One character clearly has an alcohol problem (he's shown drinking while driving), which colors his decisions at work and at home. He also turns violent, resorting to guns and worse. There are also scenes with a destructive fire and a bloody knife, as well as some swearing ("s--t" is the worst of it).

What's the story?

Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks -- author of The Notebook, The Last Song, and The Lucky One -- SAFE HAVEN finds a young woman named Katie (Julianne Hough) landing in a small North Carolina town, brought in a by a bus she boards under extreme duress. Her intent is to keep her distance from the locals, fashioning a spartan but content existence away from her past. But she can't help falling for Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower with two adorable children who owns the local gas station and convenience store. She also befriends Jo (Cobie Smulders), an equally mysterious neighbor who encourages her to take risks and enjoy life. But Katie can't let herself get comfortable, not with the secret she's keeping that's threatening to upend her fragile, new life.

Is it any good?


By now, it's clear that Sparks has a fan base for whom a movie like this is especially formulated. You can pretty much predict the bits that are sure to appear: footage of gorgeous sunsets, a mysterious stranger pulling into town, a gallant man drawn to a gentle woman, a secret that tears them apart, an obstacle that, really, isn't much of one. Yes, it's all here.

Director Lasse Hallström knows how to paint with light; his canvas is strewn with vibrant hues (except for when he's denoting an evil presence, in which case scenes are drained of color, of course, because, well, evil). But all of the pretty cinematography and dark undertones can't save Safe Haven from its sickly-sweet core. We're all for heartfelt romance, but audiences deserve for them to be much smarter than this.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Safe Haven portrays relationships. Parents, talk to your kids about the signs of unhealthy (and even abusive) relationships.

  • Is this a typical damsel-in-distress movie? If so, in which way? If not, how?

  • Discuss Katie's decision in the beginning of the movie: Did she have any other recourse?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 14, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:May 7, 2013
Cast:Cobie Smulders, Josh Duhamel, Julianne Hough
Director:Lasse Hallstrom
Studio:Relativity Media
Topics:Book characters
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality

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Parent Written byDan G. February 15, 2013

If you want your kids to disrespect marriage, let them see this movie.

Not for kids! Besides some violence and some profane and vulger language, the movie attempts to teach children that sleeping around with others after you are married is OK. What good reason could there be to expose your teenagers to this 'new morality', where your promises don't have to be kept; just do whatever you want, no matter who you hurt.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written bygibbonss February 16, 2013


Ok, a lot of people think that this movie is not appropriate for an everyday teenager such as myself, but the truth is there is nothing in this movie i haven't heard of or seen before. My mother dropped my best friend and I off at the movies to watch it...and we loved it. The meaning in the end was great, and I do not understand why parents do not see that. Also like my mother many parents don't like the idea of your child knowing what s**t and f**k means, or what sex is, but the truth is we hear it everyday, being used in sentences like it is no big deal. Overall the movie was great and would recommend it to anyone 13 and up.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written bychrissymarie February 15, 2013


I just watched this movie with a range of kids ageing from 11 to barely 13 it is rated M in my country and i honestly dont know how parents sent there kids to this movie! The kids in my session didnt pay any attention nor understand the movie the only scenes they paid attention to were the bad ones like sex scenes and the violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking