A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's important to forgive (yourself and those you love) to move forward in life, young love can change your life forever, and family bonds can require more than blood. The story also encourages teens to be with someone who challenges you and encourages you to be the best you can be.
Positive Role Models
Tuck is a wonderful father figure to Dawson, who needs someone to care about him unconditionally. Dawson and Amanda push and challenge each other to be the best they can be and to not give up on their future. They love each other in an extraordinarily intense way for high school sweethearts, who could have easily let circumstances change their feelings.
Violence & Scariness
A father severely beats up his son and threatens him. The father and his sons/nephews all beat the boy together, as well as beating up an unrelated man and leaving him unconscious. Characters are shot and killed; others are shot at and injured.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple makes love both as teens and as adults (the grown-up scene shows more skin but no actual nudity). As teens, their first time isn't explicit; viewers mostly see close-ups of their faces and backs. There's also a lot of passionate kissing. A woman commits adultery. Two different characters' unexpected pregnancies (one in high school and one in college) are discussed.
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Fairly frequent strong langauge, including "s--t," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "bulls--t," "damn," "goddamn," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), and one use of "f--king" as part of an insult.
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Products & Purchases
Several brands and car makes are featured, including Apple, Chevy, Dodge, Volvo, Corvette, Mustang, Volkswagen, Le Creuset, Sprite, Budweiser, Vivitar, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As a teen, Dawson drinks a shot of liquor that's offered to him by Amanda's father. As adults, Dawson and Amanda and other characters drink wine and beer. Amanda's husband drinks too much and even drinks and drives. Dawson's family is shown drinking (mostly beer) and it's clear they're meth dealers, even though the drug's name is never said.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Best of Me is a heart-wrenching tale based on one of author Nicholas Sparks' novels. The story (as anyone familiar with Sparks' romances could predict) is a weepy romance with dramatic twists and some heavy themes -- including child abuse, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, adultery, and murder. There are a couple of love scenes that don't show nudity but do feature close-ups of bare skin, passionate kissing, and touching. The language is occasionally strong (one "f---king," plus several uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," and more), and the violence can be intense and upsetting, particularly because it involves a father and his cronies beating up a son and wielding weapons against one another. Despite its heavy themes, the movie does have some positive messages, most notably about the power of forgiveness and the importance of being with someone who helps bring out the best in you. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Both sets of ridiculously attractive couples have the required chemistry to sell the "romance" part of this affecting romantic drama. Bracey does his best at capturing the broody young boy from the wrong side of town (the only kind of guy Sparks can write, apparently). He's not particularly charismatic -- that's all Liberato, who all but glows in her retro sun dresses while delivering encouraging, heartfelt monologues -- but it's easy to see why the filmmakers chose him; Bracey's got a soulful-hunk look that will play well with girls (and women) who like their romantic heroes quiet and gorgeous.
The lovers' grown-up versions are played by well-known actors Monaghan (who definitely pulls off being the older version of Liberato) and Marsden (who in no way looks like the adult counterpart of Bracey). These are accomplished actors who've made several romances, but even they can't make the mushy, maudlin story any less cliched (to the point that it's occasionally laughable). The movie has some legitimately poignant elements -- particularly the disturbingly violent relationship between young (and old) Dawson and his family -- but by the time the drama's twists are revealed, some in the audience will be too busy rolling their eyes to feel emotional.
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.