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Parents' Guide to

To Save a Life

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Message-heavy teen drama with iffy behavior, dark themes.

Movie PG-13 2010 120 minutes
To Save a Life Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 28 parent reviews

age 13+

Great Film For Teenage Life Choices

A Christian film mostly appropriate for high schoolers. It can be easy to pretend all the issues in the movie don't exist for our children but they absolutely do. Good for a parent to watch with their teenager for discussion. To see the consequences of poor choices as well as how Christians should handle real life situations. Teenagers are socially awkward, and the movie definitely promotes an anti-bullying message, how support, encouragement, and coming together can change people's lives. Also a good family message. Younger kids won't understand scenes of intense drinking, suicide, cutting, and sex before marriage. (There is one sexual scene I chose for my children not to watch)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 12+

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (28 ):
Kids say (32 ):

A youth pastor pleads for his flock not to be judgmental in one pivotal scene, but TO SAVE A LIFE is smothered by heavy-handedness. It means well, but it tries too hard to drive home its message, making for an awkwardly told tale. Solutions to teen angst are simplistic, like when high-schoolers decide to get opposing groups together by sitting in the school yard and inviting everyone to join. In another scene, a neighbor invites a senior to stop in for cookies (!) after he helps her with her groceries. The film heaps problem after problem on the shoulders of troubled characters as if they're being punished for their supposedly rudderless lives. Plus, the ending's pat. And the villains? They're bad to the (stereotypical) bone.

But some moments ring with authenticity -- Jake's struggle to make sense of Roger's devastating act, for one, and his reunion with Roger's mother after a long estrangement. One boy's sweetly dorky way of asking a girl out comes across as charming. And a pastor's explanation of how God and faith figure in one's life is refreshingly complex, tinted with a few shades of gray. Still, the film never quite rises above its afterschool-special vibe.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: January 22, 2010
  • On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2010
  • Cast: Deja Kreutzberg , Randy Wayne , Sean Michael
  • Director: Brian Baugh
  • Studio: New Song Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 120 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: mature thematic elements involving teen suicide, teen drinking, some drug content, disturbing images and sexuality
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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