Parents' Guide to

The Florida Project

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Gritty drama is breathtakingly realistic, unforgettable.

Movie R 2017 115 minutes
The Florida Project Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 8+
age 16+

This film sears into your soul...extremely powerful.

Wow! It's like being in a traffic jam and then the temperature goes up bit by bit and then your AC busts and you're still sitting there and the experience is slowly starting to become more and more uncomfortable. This film is a slow burn, as slice of life dramas tend to be, everyone is well cast and Dafoe's performance is mesmerizing as someone who is working too hard for too little and tries to be kind in a world on the brink of poverty. He is protective and present and bears witness to people barely hanging on. The children drive the story and your heart breaks for how their innocence is shaped at the footstep of the biggest child innocence peddler...Disney World. A powerful film that leaves its mark, searing into your soul.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (23):

Director Sean Baker's incredibly powerful drama is a shockingly realistic look at modern-day "little rascals" who live in poverty but still experience the joy and humor of childhood. Dimpled troublemaker Moonee looks like a cherub, but she and sidekicks Scooty and Jancey (a direct reference to all the quirky, rhyming names of the original gang) are up for adventures big and small, whether it's soliciting for money outside an ice cream shop (they love sharing their soft-serve cones), sharing jelly sandwiches courtesy of the weekly mobile pantry, or exploring abandoned real estate developments. Their parents and guardians might be broke, and their situations might look miserable from the outside, but these kids know how to make their own fun. What's remarkable is how Baker never judges his characters. Halley and Ashley (who at the very least has a steady gig at the diner) don't make middle-class soccer-mom choices, but they love their children and will do anything (even if that means hooking or losing a friend) to keep their kids with them.

Dafoe gives an award-worthy performance as Bobby, the put-upon but somehow patient motel manager who must have faced his own struggles to end up working at the Magic Castle. He barks at the guests, particularly Halley, who's repeatedly late with her rent, but he's clearly empathic -- especially toward the kids. As Moonee and Halley, Prince and Vinaite (whom the filmmakers found via Instagram) share a heartbreaking mother-and-daughter chemistry. Halley makes so many iffy decisions that the climactic sequence seems nearly inevitable from the movie's outset. But viewers will feel gutted as the final scene unfolds, a dose of happily-ever-after optimism for kids -- and people -- who usually remain overlooked on and off the screen.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 6, 2017
  • On DVD or streaming: February 20, 2018
  • Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite
  • Director: Sean Baker
  • Studio: A24
  • Genre: Drama
  • Character Strengths: Empathy
  • Run time: 115 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language throughout, disturbing behavior, sexual references and some drug material
  • Last updated: November 18, 2022

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.

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