Sugar Mountain

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Sugar Mountain Movie Poster Image
Beautiful Alaska locations, but silly story, heavy violence.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 106 minutes

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Mixed messages: The main characters concoct a preposterous scheme and suffer few, or only indirect, consequences. The only lessons they seem to learn are strangely unconnected. On the other hand, a developmentally disabled character is portrayed with compassion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even the smartest, most responsible character winds up participating willingly in an illegal, immoral scheme.


An extremely violent beating/pummeling. Guns and shooting. Bar fight, with punching. Shovel to the head. Knife to throat. A man shoves a woman against a wall. A man takes a terrible spill down a hill, breaks arm. Talk of losing fingers and limbs. Characters die.


There's a fairly graphic sex scene, though no sensitive nudity. Frank, colorful sex talk. Kissing. A woman straddles a man in a car and opens her top, revealing red lingerie. A woman's underwear is passed around at a party.


Several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "retard," "hell."


A GoPro camera is part of the plot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink frequently, both in bars and at parties. A secondary character carries and drinks from a flask. One character gets so drunk he goes to prison. A main character regularly smokes cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sugar Mountain is a mature thriller about a harebrained moneymaking scheme. It has heavy violence -- mostly punching, pummeling, and beating, though guns and shooting are also involved involved. Plus, there are painful falls, a shovel to the head, and a knife to the throat. There's a fairly graphic sex scene (though no sensitive nudity), as well as plenty of sex talk, a "seduction" scene that shows cleavage and ingerie, kissing, etc. Language includes multiple uses of "f--k," plus other words. Characters drink and smoke cigarettes frequently; one character carries a flask, and another gets so drunk he goes to jail. The movie's plot doesn't make much sense, and the characters aren't very likable, but at least the Alaska locations are beautiful.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bysarcasticxoof April 16, 2018


Violent, Sexual references but dramatic.

What's the story?

In SUGAR MOUNTAIN, brothers Liam (Shane Coffey) and Miles (Drew Roy), and Miles' girlfriend, Lauren (Haley Webb), are trying to run a boating business in Alaska, but they've come on hard times. The reckless Miles cooks up a desperate plan: With help from his more knowledgeable brother, they'll stage Miles' disappearance in the wilderness. And when he returns, they'll sell their story for a ton of money. Unfortunately, the local sheriff -- Lauren's father, Jim Huxley (Cary Elwes) -- suspects something is up. Worse, it turns out that Miles has secretly racked up some gambling debts, and muscular thug Joe Bright (Jason Momoa) has started shoving people around, looking for retribution. Can the trio get out of this mess?

Is it any good?

This ridiculous thriller centers on just about the dumbest scheme ever invented for a movie, yet the filmmakers don't show any awareness of the plan's absurdity; it's played dismayingly straight. That might have been excusable, given how reckless and short-sighted Miles is, but Liam is supposed to be smart and to know his way around the woods. Sugar Mountain's entire scheme just doesn't make any sense, and rudimentary mistakes are made.

Attempts to create a love triangle between the brothers, Lauren, and another female character also fall flat; they do seem like friends, but any other feelings are frustratingly opaque. Hardly anyone is even likable. The normally charming Elwes plays a nasty, vindictive sheriff, and Momoa's Joe Bright is an excessively violent thug who seems more animal than man. Director Richard Gray does use the film's Alaska settings well, and despite some uneven moments, Sugar Mountain is technically fine. But storywise, it'll leave you cold.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Sugar Mountain's violence. Is it all necessary to the plot? Are the violent scenes thrilling or shocking? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex portrayed in the movie? Is it part of a loving relationship, or is it used for some other purpose? Parents, talk to teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How is drinking treated in the movie? Is it glamorized? Why does that matter?

  • What does Miles learn during the movie? What decisions does he make? Based on what?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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