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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's ultimate message is that true love conquers all. But there are also less-positive takeaways influenced by the time in which the movie takes place -- people of color are often portrayed as subservient, and both Ali and her mother say: "I am a stupid woman," as though repeating a truism that they have learned.
Positive Role Models
Though it's romantic to watch characters fall in love so wholly and stay devoted to each other, some of the choices that the lovers make -- like cheating on a relationship and lying to family members -- don't qualify as role model behavior.
Violence & Scariness
Noah and Finn are engaged in active duty during World War II. There's a bomb raid that incurs heavy losses. Ali nurses soldiers who have lost limbs. Noah and Ali fight passionately -- so much so that she hits and slaps him. Some poignant deaths.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Steamy passion between the two young lovers. Lots of making out and heavy petting, and characters undress in front of each other (only their shoulders are shown). A fairly graphic lovemaking scene (again, just shoulders visible, plus a brief glimpse of breast from the side).
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Words/phrases used include "damn," "crap," "goddammit," "son of a bitch," and "pain in the ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A 17-year-old smokes a cigar. Adults drink cocktails, wine, champagne, and beer. Noah goes on a 10-day drinking binge. Characters drink in excess to ease pain or to lessen their inhibitions. Most meals are accompanied by alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this three-hanky World War II-era romance has pretty steamy sexual content for a PG-13-rated movie, including very passionate kissing and a fairly graphic lovemaking scene (though only shoulders are shown). A teenage couple agrees to have sex, but then she becomes very flustered and anxious, and an engaged girl has sex with a man who isn't her fiance. Characters drink and smoke; there's also brief battle violence and some poignant deaths. Teens will be watching with rapt attention to pick up clues about what true, passionate love looks like, but this type of sensual story may not be appropriate for the youngest teenagers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In THE NOTEBOOK, the details and dialog are a bit clumsy, but in the end romantics won't care. Also, it's hard to believe in Allie's feelings for Noah or Lon, partly because none of them ever come alive as characters. It's all description, not depiction.
We do care about the couple in the nursing home, but the connection to the other story is never strong enough to keep our attention. Gosling is one of the most talented actors of his generation, but he's not as good in this role. James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard as Noah's father and Joan Allen as Allie's mother give the material more than it deserves, and director Nick Cassavetes clearly wants this film to be a love letter to Rowlands, his mother. She is luminous, and we do believe she could inspire great love. Too bad the movie isn't a little bit better.
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.