Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Digital mystery satisfies on technical, emotional levels.

Movie PG-13 2018 102 minutes
Searching Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 13+
age 13+

Interesting plot and storytelling, hard for parents to watch

Other reviews don't mention that the first 30 minutes of this movie are fear-inducing for parents, and potentially some teens. The early scenes play out pretty realistically about a teen girl who doesn't come home on enight. The father's mounting worry turns to desperation, and he has a hard time tracking down her friends since so many of their full names or cell numbers or parents are unknown to him. This is every parents nightmare - disappearance, loss, a sense of blame about how little you knew your child. My young teen watching this was not scared at all by the movie, but some teens might be if they worry about vanishing. After the first 30 or 45 min, the movie becomes less realistic and much more clearly a movie, with some twists and turns and mystery elements. It's absorbing throughout. Just be aware that it may play out your deepest fears as a parent, at least at the beginning, and be aware of how your teen will respond to watching it.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (24):

Perhaps inspired by the success of 2014's Unfriended, this mystery ventures in fresh, new directions while being superbly constructed, emotionally satisfying, and culturally relevant. The debut feature of director Aneesh Chaganty, who also wrote the screenplay with producer Sev Ohanian, Searching is notable for focusing on a Korean American family without making an issue of it. It frankly doesn't matter what culture the Kim family comes from (other than in the valuable representation sense, of course). What matters is what would matter to any human being when a family member is in trouble.

In the lead role, Cho does amazing things, performing largely by himself and within unconventional cameras and camera setups, reaching new emotional depths. The movie's filming techniques do recall some of the more effective things used in Unfriended and Unfriended: Dark Web, but Searching expands the genre's toolbox, going further in both time and space. And the screenplay, while suffering a few small, easily forgivable shaky spots, is a thing of beauty, furthering the story with desperate, constant propulsion, and dropping little clues in the most innocuous places. When it all comes together, it's with a most pleasurable snap.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate