Parents' Guide to

The Lifeguard

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Drama is short on story, long on illicit romance.

Movie R 2013 90 minutes
The Lifeguard Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

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!!!!!!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (5 ):

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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: August 30, 2013
  • On DVD or streaming: October 8, 2013
  • Cast: David Lambert , Kristen Bell , Mamie Gummer
  • Director: Liz W. Garcia
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Focus Features
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong sexuality, brief graphic nudity, drug use, language and a disturbing image - some involving teens
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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