The Shallows

Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
The Shallows Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Blake Lively vs. shark in tense, bloody ocean thriller.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 43 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The theme/message of the movie is to persevere no matter what -- never quit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nancy keeps calm after the shark bites her and she's stranded. She decides that she isn't going to quit and will fight to the end. She stitches up her own wound, then observes the shark and tries to learn its patterns so she can outsmart it. That said, she does also hitchhike to a secluded beach by herself and keep surfing after locals have called it a day. Nancy's friend bails on her.


(Possible spoiler alert ahead!) Strong, frequent peril and plenty of blood. Nancy is bitten by the shark and bleeds. The shark jumps out of the water and eats someone. A man is pulled down into the water by the shark while Nancy tries to save him. A man crawls up on to the beach, but the lower half of his body is left behind. Viewers hear (but don't see) someone being eaten by a shark. The shark circles Nancy and jumps at her. Nancy stitches up her leg using her jewelry. A dead whale is shown half eaten and floating in the water. Nancy swims through a pocket of jellyfish and gets stung. Nancy is pummeled by the shark and by waves, which throw her into the coral. In a sad moment, Nancy says goodbye to her dad and sister in a video when she thinks she might not survive. She's pulled out of the water not breathing.


Close-up shots of Nancy's chest and butt. Nancy's friend meets a guy and texts Nancy to tell her not to wait up.


Nancy says "Oh my God," "f--k," and "s--t" while taking on the shark.


Close-up shots of a Sony phone and its video call feature, Banana Boat sunscreen and a RipCurl wetsuit top. A Go Pro camera is used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man is seen passed out on a beach with an empty bottle. Nancy's friend can't go surfing with her because she's too hung over.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Shallows is a tense, bloody, jump-out-of-your-seat thriller starring Blake Lively as a young med school dropout who goes surfing at a secluded beach. After being chomped on by a shark, she must figure out how to survive and get to safety. Many scenes could scare the pants off of kids (and adults), including a shark jumping out of the water with its jaws open (then chomping down on a surfer) and a man crawling onto the beach with half his body chewed off. It's very exciting, but it's not for the faint of heart. That said, Nancy is a strong, determined woman who never loses her cool, though she does swear a few times (including "f--k" and "s--t"). Bottom line? The Shallows is both terrifying and entertaining, but it's not for young kids or anyone afraid of the water or blood. If you couldn't handle Jaws, skip this one, too.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCatsRule88 June 29, 2016

Protective mother

I think this was a great action movie. even tho the f bomb was said like a few times, it wasnt that bad. Its like have you ever gone to middle school. the viole... Continue reading
Parent Written byBeckyBar July 2, 2016

Dont waste your time.

Another movie that is so far gone it is pathetic. Unreal and too many far fetched scenes to mention. Even my ten year old son found major mistakes that a shar... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPhabio June 26, 2016

A Great Movie...

The Shallows was a great movie that stars Blake Lively. This movie is super adrenalized and fast paced. The swearing was NOT to Good Due to the F bomb. But it i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byemily7976 June 29, 2016

If you can handle the gore than its a great movie!

The movie was great but do not watch it if you can't handle blood. There was a lot of blood and gruesome scenes in this movie Including Nancy (Blake Lively... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE SHALLOWS, Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) is a young med school dropout who goes to a secluded beach to surf and mourn the death of her mother. She quickly realizes that she's not alone...there's a shark in the water with her. She survives its attack, but that's just the beginning of her battle of wits with the Great White. Stranded 200 yards from shore, Nancy has to figure out how to get out alive.

Is it any good?

Like the shark at the center of its story, this movie pulls you in the minute Nancy grabs her surfboard and gets in the water. The Great White gets her right away, but that's only the beginning of her fight to stay alive. Lively is in almost every scene of the movie, and she's compelling enough to make it work. She's alone, injured and trapped, but still manages to stitch up her leg, make a video, and fight off a giant shark. She's a tough, strong woman who doesn't need saving.

There are quite a few terrifying shots of people being grabbed by sharks, but the scariest is what you don't see: i.e. a surfer being pulled in from under the water and not coming back up (and then there's Lively's face while it's all happening). It's only 87 minutes long, but you'll be holding your breath for much of that time. Unlike Jaws, the shark looks very real here (though the same can't be said for the scenes of Lively surfing...) and even more menacing. The end is a little silly, and The Shallows won't end up a a classic like Jaws did, but it will give a new generation of beachgoers an ominous feeling when they look down in the water.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Shallows' violence and scary scenes. Which parts scared you the most? Why? Is it scarier when you can see the monster/bad guy, or when you can't? Why?

  • Is Nancy a role model? Why or why not? How does she demonstrate perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Talk about Nancy's decision to hitchhike to a secluded beach and go surfing alone. Was that a smart, safe choice? What else could she have done? Have you ever gone anywhere by yourself and been nervous about it?

Movie details

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