A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sweet-but-sad and fairly predictable coming-of-age story will likely appeal to hordes of Miley Cyrus’ young fans, but it's best for older tweens and teens thanks to the heavy topics of divorce, abusive relationships, and death. The romance (including some passionate kissing) will send fans' hearts a-flutter, and a tear-jerking storyline will leave them surprisingly moved. There’s little swearing ("bitch") and some sexual banter, but most everything’s pretty clean-cut.
What's the story?
Sent along with her younger brother to spend the summer on Tybee Island with their father (Greg Kinnear), Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) resists enjoying their time together. She’s been estranged from him since he divorced their mother (Kelly Preston), and refuses to forgive him for what she feels is abandonment. Post-high-school-graduation, life in general feels tenuous to Ronnie. She’s been accepted to Juilliard, the prestigious music conservatory, but she’s determined not to go, despite having been a musical prodigy. Her father was her teacher, and she can’t bear to sit at the piano again since it reminds Ronnie of him. But an unexpected romance with a popular local boy, Will (Liam Hemsworth), softens Ronnie’s heart, and paves the way for a reconciliation with her father. Sadly, it may prove too short.
Is it any good?
Miley Cyrus won’t be winning any acting awards anytime soon. Her delivery is rat-a-tat, and she operates in two modes -- pouting and not. But despite rote dialogue and plot swerves one could spot a mile away, Cyrus manages to seem authentic, especially in scenes with Kinnear and Hemsworth, with whom she shares incredible chemistry.
It's their chemistry that rescues THE LAST SONG from disaster, actually -- Hemsworth has great charisma and good instincts -- and the gorgeously photographed locale helps too. Nicholas Sparks, of The Notebook fame, who wrote the screenplay, clearly knows how to eke out the tears from romance. (Cyrus' tween fan base will swoon.) But the movie aspires to be too many things -- an inspirational movie, a dark family drama, a study of class conflict -- that it isn't great at any of them. Plus, for a film starring beloved pop star Cyrus, with the word "song" in its title, and celebrating the joy of music, it has too-few moments of Ronnie and her father together at the piano. And that's a pity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ronnie’s reaction to her parents’ divorce. Why does she hate her father so much? Why is she unable to forgive him? Is her reaction typical and/or understandable? Does her experience remind you of your experiences or your friends' experiences?
Tweens and teens: Do you see Miley Cyrus as a role model? Why or why not? Do you think celebrities make good role models? Do you have any real-life role models -- like family members, friends, or teachers? Do you real-life role models have more or less influence over your thoughts and decisions compared to celebs?
Is the film’s depiction of first (true) love realistic? How does it change Ronnie?
- In theaters: March 31, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2010
- Cast: Greg Kinnear, Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus
- Director: Julie Anne Robinson
- Studio: Offspring Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, some violence, sensuality and mild language
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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.