Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Submarine Movie Poster Image
Indie coming-of-age dramedy tackles some big issues.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

As in many coming-of-age movies, the main character goes through a period in which he experiments with iffy behavior before learning something. He spies on his parents, engages in bullying and/or destructive behavior, and eventually winds up broken-hearted and angry. But he does learn from all this, and he overcomes several challenges (although part of his solution is "getting the girl").

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teen characters pass through a phase of bullying, spying, and destructive behavior before finally overcoming their personal obstacles and emerging as more mature and responsible. Adults, meanwhile, are all sad and withdrawn, or else they hide behind a kind of false arrogance. Few of them set any kind of example for young people.


A fight at school is shown, though the final blow is delivered off screen. The hero winds up with blood on his face. Some bullying.


The characters are almost constantly thinking about sex or talking in heavy sexual innuendo. The hero wants to have sex with his girlfriend and spends a great deal of time monitoring his parents' sex life. Lots of teen kissing. One scene shows a girl ducking out of sight to give a man oral sex. Also other images of implied sex, and a mother talks in front of her son about giving a "hand job."


Teens use strong language, including many "f--k"s and lots of sexual innuendo. Other words include "s--t," "c--k," "d--k," "twat," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "gay" (used in a derogatory manner), and "piss."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this coming-of-age dramedy based on a 2008 novel by Joe Dunthorne, which is set in Wales in the 1980s, is heavy on language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and sexual innuendo/talk; most of these characters have sex on the brain throughout the story, although there's almost no nudity. There are also some moments of bullying. Despite its playful nature, the movie actually deals with some strong issues, such as broken hearts and a couple's struggle to save a troubled marriage.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byProf. Ward August 4, 2018


Ayoade has found the perfect blend of romance, quirkiness and comedy. The beautiful scenes of welsh coasts are one of the best parts of the film. I also thoroug... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byjoaquingv July 15, 2017

What's the story?

In 1980s-era Wales, 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) decides that he's ready for his first girlfriend, and he carefully selects Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige) for several important qualities ... the foremost being that she'll actually speak to him. Together they embark on a turbulent relationship, heading (Oliver hopes) toward sex. At the same time, Oliver's parents (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) have hit a rocky place in their marriage, complicated by the fact that Oliver's mother's old flame (Paddy Considine) has just moved to a house nearby. Can Oliver manage to save his parents' marriage without jeopardizing his new relationship?

Is it any good?

Submarine has a reckless feel, and it's not as careful or precious as other movies with similar themes. Richard Ayoade, an actor and a veteran of short films, TV shows, and concert videos, makes his feature directing debut here, and he probably overcompensates a bit with some flashy gimmicks -- including narration, flashbacks, fantasy sequences, slow motion, talking directly to the audience, and more.

But given the worn-out nature of the "coming-of-age" genre, the director's little tricks do help bring some life back into an otherwise familiar story. The movie ventures into some fairly brave relationship territory, ranging from sex troubles to communication woes. The terrific cast helps a great deal as well, ranging from veterans Hawkins, Taylor, and Considine to the young newcomers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie addresses teen sex. Why do you think the characters are so focused on it? Is that realistic? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding relationships.

  • This movie shows that relationships take lots of work. What are some of the things that the characters did wrong? What could they have done instead? What did they do right?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love offbeat movies

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