Tiger Within

Movie review by
Jordan Elizabeth, Common Sense Media
Tiger Within Movie Poster Image
Holocaust survivor helps teen sex worker in angsty drama.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Positive themes of forgiveness, friendship, compassion, empathy, and faith ultimately prevail in the characters' dark, troubled lives. On the downside, story suggests that women and girls need to be saved by men/love interests.

Positive Role Models

Characters are independent, outspoken, persevering. Casey is depicted as a reckless, angsty teen but later acknowledges that her rough exterior hides her insecurities. Her parents are depicted as cold, unloving, irresponsible -- making the kind-hearted Samuel a much-needed companion. Although Casey is independent and strong-willed, she's ultimately "saved" by Samuel and a young male love interest.


An elderly man is punched and pushed to the ground by a group of anti-Semites, resulting in death. 


An unhoused teen gets a part-time job as a sex worker, giving sensual massages. Male clients are shown semi-nude on a massage table with towels covering their lower bodies.


Occasional use of the words "bitch," "s--t," and "f--k." Swastika symbols are seen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional drinking by adults. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tiger Within is a drama about a runaway teen named Casey (Margot Josefsohn) who's taken in by an elderly Holocaust survivor named Samuel (Ed Asner). Mature content includes occasional sex work by a minor (sensual massage with semi-nude clients), conversations about anti-Semitism, and a violent hate crime involving punching and shoving that results in death. Although there's violence, it's not graphic: An elderly man is punched to the ground, and then the screen goes black, leading viewers to assume the violence continues. Cursing includes use of the words "bitch," "s--t," and "f--k"; swastika symbols are seen. Adults drink occasionally. Ethnic and religious diversity is touched on when Samuel shares his story of being Jewish and fleeing Germany. Positive themes of forgiving humanity and finding faith in yourself are prevalent, though the story also suggests that women and girls need to be saved by men/love interests.

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What's the story?

In TIGER WITHIN, teenage Casey's mother and her mother's abusive boyfriend put the girl on a train from Ohio to California to live with her estranged father and his new family. But when Casey (Margot Josefsohn) overhears the new family making disparaging remarks about her at the train station, she ditches them and decides to fend for herself on the streets of Los Angeles. An elderly man named Samuel (Ed Asner) finds Casey sleeping in a cemetery and treats her to a meal and a place to stay. An unlikely friendship develops, with the lonely man and the hardened teen finding family in each other. 

Is it any good?

Despite overly simplistic representations of an angsty teen and a kind old man, this drama delivers on themes of faith in yourself and forgiveness of humanity. The production quality in Tiger Within is lackluster, with continuity suffering between shots, as well as stiff dialogue. And the theme of tigers, after which the movie is named, is an afterthought -- only introduced at the very end. Luckily, Asner is natural and realistic in his portrayal. 

Although Casey is independent and strong-willed, she's ultimately "saved" by Samuel and a young male love interest. Don't let the tattoos and piercings fool you: She's a stereotypical damsel in distress (with blond hair and blue eyes, to boot). At least here, her being saved means that she ends up with restored faith in herself. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in Tiger Within show forgiveness, empathy, and compassion. Why are those important character strengths?

  • What role and importance does family play in the characters' lives?

  • Samuel says sex work is shameful. Do you agree, or disagree? How is it portrayed here?

  • Do you consider the characters to be role models? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Character Strengths

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