The Perfect Summer

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
The Perfect Summer Movie Poster Image
Wholesome surf drama has positive messages, some bullying.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Starting over is difficult but worthwhile; winning isn't as important as pushing yourself to try new things. It's important to disconnect from technology and media and be a part of our local communities.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Grandfather Lou is warm and welcoming and happy to mentor his grandson, though in one instance he uses intimidation and destruction of property to teach a bully a lesson. Mom Alyssa is willing to put herself out there to start over, even though it's difficult and painful. Both are heavily invested in the wellbeing of the teenage Jake, who strives to do the right thing while grieving. He pushes himself in a new sport even though it's difficult and embarrassing, and he pursues friendships in spite of angering jealous locals.


Some bullying and intimidation. A guy pushes another down into the water. A guy hits someone in the face with his surfboard. A guy destroys a surfboard. A man destroys a surfboard in retaliation. A teenager takes a surfboard into rough waves at night and nearly drowns.


A man kisses a woman on the cheek.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man attends an AA meeting, then discusses his sobriety with a teenager.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Perfect Summer's premise involves a teenage son grieving the loss of his father, whose death is referenced. There's some bullying that involves a fight, destruction of surfboards, and a retaliatory act wherein an adult destroys a kid's property to make a point. Otherwise this is a clean-language film that promotes incredibly positive messages about starting over, family support and connectivity, and taking risks to push yourself toward being a better person. A sense of faith and references to attending church hover in the background but aren't heavy-handed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohnny Sonshine April 6, 2019

Good for teens and tweens

We were pleasantly surprised with this one. After reading the caption on Prime about a son dealing with the loss of his father we were a little concerned it wou... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byRatingDonuts June 7, 2015

Perfect for ALL ages ! For families

No swearing and perfect example for kids to be happy about what they have. I like the characters and there is one short, nothing too big, of a kiss that lasted... Continue reading

What's the story?

Teenage Jake (Adam Horner) and mom Alyssa (Sydney Penny) are starting over after the loss of Jake's dad, so they've moved back in with Grandpa Lou (Eric Roberts) to a beach town that's hard to warm up to. Alyssa sets out to find work, and Jake learns that making enemies is much easier than friends in this tight-knit community. But when he decides to take up surfing, he learns something about himself, his grandfather's past, and what it means to really participate in life.

Is it any good?

THE PERFECT SUMMER is pretty wholesome fare -- no cursing, no sexual content, no drinking or drugs, and some challenging scenes about loss and transformation. It doesn't always land on its feet; the script feels pretty contrived in many instances, and the chemistry isn't always there. There's some iffy behavior when Grandpa takes handling a bully in his own hands and destroys a kid's surfboard, but overall this is a well-meaning, clean-cut look at some relatable teenage problems, such as making friends and being the new kid. With a heavy focus on stunning beach sunsets and crashing waves, you could do worse for family fare that tackles heavy issues with an eye for positive messages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about starting over. Have you ever had to start over with something? A new school? A new subject? A new sport? What happened? How did you handle it? Do you think the film shows the struggle of starting over accurately? Why, or why not?

  • How does the film handle bullying? Do you think it's realistic? Do you think Lou acted fairly in helping his grandson face the town bully? Why, or why not?

  • What is the film's message about using the Internet and smartphones? What did Jake gain by putting down his phone and going out into the world?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love teenage life

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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