Safe Haven

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Safe Haven Movie Poster Image
Predictable romantic drama deals with pretty heavy themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.

What 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).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnn Smith February 26, 2016

good for mature teens

I believe this movie is awesome and I would hate for kids to miss out on it! It includes swearing but mature kids can deffinetly handle it!
Adult Written byMatt B. July 24, 2017

Good romance movie

Like most romance movies it's appropriate for teens and adults. This one is a little more harsh one. It contains a sexual scene that is a little harsh for... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byAbbieGilmore May 3, 2013

love this movie

Me and my 13 year old sister went to see this movie on tuesday and we loved it! The truth is, parents don't realize how much their kids actually know about... Continue reading
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... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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