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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Ultimately, The Impossible is a story of a mother and son's devotion to each other after the unthinkable has happened. The movie reinforces the random way that natural disasters cause destruction. There's no reason some people survive and others perish; it's a terrible tragedy with unthinkable consequences. But throughout the calamity, people show each other extraordinary kindness and generosity, sending the message that even in times of despair, there are moments of hope and small miracles to celebrate.
Positive Role Models
Maria and Lucas do everything they can to help each other survive. There are several times when Lucas must act like the parent and take care of his mother. He even has to literally carry and hoist her up a tree. Although it's a burden, Maria convinces Lucas to save a little toddler boy they find.
Violence & Scariness
The devastation the tsunami causes is catastrophic. People are swept away in a wall of water, drowned or impaled or crushed by debris. Maria is seriously injured as her body makes impact in the rush of water. At one point, she's incredibly bloody and has a large flap of skin hanging off of her leg. People taken to the hospital are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Kids and teens will especially feel for Lucas, who at one point believes his mother is dead. Both Maria and Henry think the other has died. A tween yells at his mother a few times.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Adults at the resort kiss and dance and embrace. There's nudity, but in a completely asexual way. The mom, who was wearing a bathing suit when the tsunami struck, doesn't realize her breast is exposed until her son mentions it.
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Strong language includes a tween swearing. Words include "hell" and "goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Grown-ups drink at the hotel bar and a dinner party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Impossible is an intense family drama set against the 2004 Asian tsunami. Because of the subject matter, there are many upsetting sequences, particularly in the first half hour after the tsunami hits. People are shown swept away and presumably killed by the rushing wall of water, and a mother is so severely injured that a part of her skin is no longer attached to her body. Parents, please know that you, too, will be affected by the horrors depicted in the film -- none greater than when a boy believes he's all that's left of his immediate family. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Movies about a massively destructive event, whether it's a war or 9/11, can be difficult to watch and even more difficult to make well. By focusing on one family, director Juan Antonio Bayona wisely distills the tsunami tragedy down to the myopic perspective of one distraught woman and her mature-beyond-his-years son. Watts and Holland's interactions beautifully capture the bond between mother and child.
Watts is terrific, and Holland is remarkable -- reminiscent of young Hunter McCracken in The Tree of Life. No longer a little boy but far from a man, Holland's Lucas is fiercely determined to survive and help his mother secure medical attention. Once they safely land at a Thai hospital, the story loses some of its immediacy, but then we find out what happened to the father and brothers thought lost. The Impossible isn't an easy viewing experience, but it reminds us all that even in times of despair, there are moments of hope and small miracles to celebrate.
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.