Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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 ...
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.
What does Miles learn during the movie? What decisions does he make? Based on what?
For kids who love thrills
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.