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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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?
- In theaters: June 24, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: September 27, 2016
- Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Sedona Legge
- Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Ocean Creatures
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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