The Best of Me

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Best of Me Movie Poster Image
Weepy Nicholas Sparks melodrama is cliché-ridden, violent.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKareenacervetto702 April 19, 2020
Great love story, but not for younger teens, adultry and mild sex sex scenes are much better suited for older teens.
Adult Written byzjs October 18, 2015

Intriguing romance is shockingly violent

Although I personally enjoyed the film I was not expecting the heavy themes and intense violence. There are multiple intentional and accidental murders, gun vio... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJflores14 October 18, 2014

Great tearjerker is shockingly inappropriate

This book based film has amazing characters, humorous lines and a sweet romance. This said the sex, violence, nudity, and language all make this more a film for... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byIvonnelove December 30, 2019

Must Read

This movie was good. It was mostly romantic which means that it had sex, violence, swearing, drinking and a great message. I recommended the movie for 16+ mos... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, THE BEST OF ME follows two time periods in the main characters' lives. It starts in the present, when Dawson Cole (James Marsden) is nearly killed in an oil rig explosion but has a vision of his first love Amanda and manages to survive. He's reunited with Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), now a stay-at-home mom, for the first time in 21 years when they're both summoned to their Louisiana hometown to settle the estate of their dear friend (and in Dawson's case, father figure), Tuck (Gerald McRaney). As they deal with their lingering feelings for each other, the high-school sweethearts reminisce about their relationship. Back in 1992, young Dawson (Luke Bracey) was a quiet but hunky gearhead-meets-physics buff who wanted to get far away from his abusive, drug-dealing family of alpha males. Amanda (Liana Liberato), meanwhile, was beautiful, confident, and intelligent and wanted a guy who wasn't just a spoiled rich boy. After meeting-cute over broken-down cars, they eventually fall in love, but their disparate backgrounds and futures seem like insurmountable obstacles.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of romantic movies in which first love overshadows any subsequent relationships. Why are movies about the power of first love so appealing? What kind of message do they send to teen audiences?

  • How does The Best of Me depict teen romance and sexual relationships? Do you think Amanda and Dawson's forever love is believable? How do they help bring out the "best" in each other? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Author Nicholas Sparks is known for weepy, heartbreaking stories with life-and-death twists. How does this adaptation compare to others based on his books?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

Themes & Topics

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