The Lifeguard Movie Poster Image

The Lifeguard

Drama is short on story, long on illicit romance.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

You can't recapture your high school glory days, and you can't regain those lazy days with almost no responsibilities. These are tough lessons that 29-year-old Leigh has to learn after she abandons her life in New York and moves back in with her parents in suburban Connecticut.

Positive role models

Leigh is a bit of a slacker, quitting her job as a New York journalist, moving back to her suburban hometown, getting a job as a summer lifeguard, and hanging out with high school kids. Her best friends aren't much better, and they all seem to be reverting back to their teens, hanging out in parking lots after school and traipsing out to the woods to smoke pot.


Some arguments between friends and couples, and one disturbing scene that comes in the aftermath of a tragedy.


The main character, a 29-year-old woman, becomes involved with a 16-year-old boy, and there are several graphic sex scenes, including oral sex and vigorous thrusting. Another scene shows a married couple starting to get involved in oral sex; the man's penis is seen.


Frequent swearing throughout the film includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," and more. One scene shows tween boys yelling "f--k off, bitch" to an adult woman.


Several scenes take place in and around one character's Toyota.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

People drink wine, beer, and harder drinks while socializing and at parties. Several people regularly smoke cigarettes, and a few scenes show people smoking pot and acting high.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Lifeguard is about an unhappy 29-year-old New York reporter (Kristen Bell) who chucks it all to move back in with her parents in her sleepy Connecticut hometown. Soon, she's hanging out with her high school pals in the same old parking lot, and it's not long before she becomes involved with a high school boy who's just slightly more than half her age. There are several explicit sex scenes (including one in which a man's genitals are seen), as well as frequent swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), and lots of drinking and pot smoking.

What's the story?

Leigh (Kristen Bell) is a New York journalist who's spinning her wheels at work and dismayed to realize that her boyfriend/boss has just become engaged to someone else. So she chucks it all and gets out of town, moving back in with her parents in her suburban hometown and getting back in touch with her high school pals (Mamie Gummer and Martin Starr). Soon she's got her high-school job back, too, as THE LIFEGUARD at a local condo complex, where she falls for Jason (David Lambert), a 16-year-old who's thinking about dropping out of school. Leigh is trying to recapture a carefree life without responsibilities or expectations, but getting involved with a minor may not be her best decision in a summer filled with poor choices.

Is it any good?


The best thing that can be said about The Lifeguard is that Bell turns in what may be one of her strongest performances. As Leigh, she seethes with despair and confusion, which lends the movie a whiff of authenticity. (Gummer is pretty fantastic, too.)

But her starring role isn't enough to rescue the movie from drowning in a pool of obviousness and a complete disregard for tone. Yes, Leigh is lost; yes, she's paralyzed. But it's a pretty big leap to expect the audience to cheer her on when her way out includes a perplexing (and cringe-inducing) relationship. Malaise is a rich field to mine in movies, but only if a filmmaker knows how to make it relatable or interesting -- and hopefully both. Leigh's struggles are unfortunately neither.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts drinking and drug use. What role do they play in Leigh/her friends' life? Are their consequences? Are they realistic?

  • How does Leigh's arrival in her hometown affect the other people around her, including her mother and her old friends? Is it true that "you can't go home again"?

  • What do you think about Leigh and Jason's relationship? What draws them together? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 30, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:October 8, 2013
Cast:David Lambert, Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer
Director:Liz W. Garcia
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong sexuality, brief graphic nudity, drug use, language and a disturbing image - some involving teens

This review of The Lifeguard was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written by150quail March 7, 2014


Foul gestures and actions, can you guess it? Well if you know, there's just about enough to blind a kid. The language is also pretty vulgar too. Constant f bombs and s bombs are said. Not for kids. I REPEAT NOT FOR KIDS.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bywonder dove October 7, 2013

Strong content!

After nothing else to watch, I found the trailer for The Lifeguard and gave it a go. It was not bad! However, the content is VERY strong and not for kids! It's about a plain 29 year old journalist named Leigh (Kristen Bell) who learns that her boyfriend from work is engaged to someone else. She feels completely hopeless and decides to move back with her parents, who thinks she's nuts for doing so, and she hopes it will be a fun, carefree summer hanging out with old high-school friends. But she must contribute by getting a job to earn her keep. She becomes a lifeguard at a condo complex where she meets a young 16 year old, Jason, whom she quickly falls for, but the relationship soon turns sour following a series of unfortunate events. Can she fix what has been broken? It was definitely interesting to watch, but also quite slow paced. Adult characters act like teenagers and smoke a lot including pot with other teenagers. There is drinking including under-age. Sexual content contains several explicit themes including two sex scenes - one being explicit in a pool bathroom. A woman pulls down her husbands pants and you see his penis for about 5 seconds, but they do not do anything. More references to oral sex. A woman pretends to make-out with a wall. Couples kiss. Violence isn't bad but has arguments between characters, stressful situations including one scene of death. Language is very strong including coming from children and has many f-words and other explicit words such as a small boy telling a grown woman to suck his d*ck...etc. Definitely not for kids under 18!!!!!!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old December 6, 2013

Not very Kiddie Appro Pro

I think that this movie is very sexual for children and that you shouldn't see it until your 18 year old or older. It also has a little bit of violence and has people using "hard language." That's my review.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking