The Confirmation

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Confirmation Movie Poster Image
Drama, humor mix as dad sobers up to be with his young son.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Try your best. It's never too late to straighten out your life. Appreciate what others do for you, even if what they do isn't ultimately all that helpful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anthony is only 8 but, out of love and compassion, he feels that he must take care of his father. He demonstrates fierce emotional strength and courage. His father loves Anthony and does his best to kick his alcohol habit in order to be with him. A boy lies and tries to steal some tools. Anthony's parents are divorced, but when Anthony's mother sees how hard her ex-husband is trying to stay sober and to be a good father, she displays kindness and empathy. 


Two men punch another when something is stolen. A man pulls a gun on Walt when he accuses him of stealing his tools but puts it down when he sees Walt is no real threat.


Infrequent use of words including "s--ty," "ass," "puss," "go fish yourself," "screwed up."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Walt is an alcoholic going through withdrawal. A minor character admits he uses "meth." A boy matter-of-factly refers to his "passed out" dad.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Confirmation is a serious film that deals with the struggles of an out-of-work, alcoholic deadbeat dad (Clive Owen) who's desperately fighting to remain sober so he can stay in his 8-year-old son's life. The boy, who watches his father succumb to alcohol withdrawal while his mom is away for a weekend, takes charge of his father's care, even though he barely understands what's going on. A sense that the boy might not be safe in the dad's company quickly gives way to an ultimately hopeful story about the father's commitment to gradual redemption, one human step at a time; his journey includes themes of empathy, courage, and kindness. That said, although the dad eventually becomes more responsible, his lapses in judgment include trying to steal back some stolen property and calling his ex-wife's new husband a "puss." Other language includes infrequent use of words like "s--tty" and "ass," and there are scenes involving punching and a gun being pulled. Reference to a character using drugs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRon T. May 2, 2021

A good movie for examining moral dilemmas, not a fairy tale.

Yes, there is cursing and some violence in this movie. It's about working class people, alcoholism and divorce. It's not a Disney movie about Unicor... Continue reading
Parent Written byDrJohn G. April 14, 2017

A Father's Love Gives Him Strength to Overcome

This is a heartwarming story about a good man who was broken by divorce but found the courage to overcome out of love for his son. It illustrates the importanc... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

THE CONFIRMATION is a title with double meaning -- it refers both to an 8-year-old boy's upcoming religious rite of passage and to a new assurance that, despite his parents' divorce, he'll be able to have a relationship with his father. With his mom, Bonnie (Maria Bello), away, Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) must spend the weekend with his dad, Walt (Clive Owen), an out-of-work carpenter with an alcohol problem. Bonnie has threatened to deny visitation rights if Walt doesn't stop drinking, so, on their first night together, Anthony watches his father go cold turkey, observing but not understanding the accompanying shakes, sweats, and hallucinations. Though only a boy, Anthony believes that in some sense he has to be the grown-up, taking care of and protecting his father. Over the course of the weekend, Walt shows his son how to fix things and teaches him the value of good tools. When Walt's prized tools -- which were given to him by his father, underscoring the film's emphasis on the importance of the father-son relationship -- are stolen, Walt and Anthony collaborate to get them back, which cements their bond.

Is it any good?

Parts of this movie are grim, sad, and difficult to watch, but the filmmakers skillfully find humor and resolution as Walt and Anthony find their way toward each other. Nobody is perfect in The Confirmation, and that may be the point. The bright and somewhat literal-minded boy (a riveting performance by Lieberher) questions all assumptions, which makes for amusing and well-written dialogue. Sent to confession with an annoyed priest, he bridles when the priest calls him "son." "I'm not your son," the boy replies, stating a fact without a hint of snark. In another scene, Walt and Anthony watch a TV show in which a son asks his father, "What's a hussy?" and the father feebly attempts to reply without any sexual references, which just confuses the boy more. One of the movie's earnest themes is to illustrate the way adults try to explain the nearly inexplicable complexities of a grown-up world without destroying a child's innocence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the dad is portrayed in The Confirmation. Does the movie want you to view him as a villain, or is he sympathetic?

  • How is drinking portrayed? Are the consequences realistic? Do you think the movie could help people understand the difficulties faced by children whose parents have substance problems?

  • The mother seems angry at the dad. But how does the movie show that she also has empathy for him? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Can you think of other movies that deal with the father-son relationship? What do they have in common? How are they different?

  • How does Anthony demonstrate compassion and courage despite his circumstances?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories about dads

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate