Upside Down

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Upside Down Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi romance has great visuals but poor storytelling.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie takes place in a society wherein one group of people assumes superiority over another group. A small number of people disagree with this idea and try to change it in a positive way, without violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character eventually teaches the world a valuable lesson about living together -- though his motivation is romance, and he goes about getting what he wants in an underhanded way (including lying).

Violence

A dead body is shown in an early scene. A few scenes of guns and shooting. The main characters are wounded, though not seriously hurt. The main character sports a bloody cut over one eye. He's also abducted by a carload of thugs, beaten up, and dumped in an alley. In a back story, the main character explains that he was orphaned due to an explosion in an oil plant.

Sex

The two main characters kiss several times. In the final scene, the woman informs the man that she's pregnant. This implies that they've had sex at some point, though no nudity or sex is actually shown.

Language

"God" is spoken once. A middle finger gesture is used.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A central character smokes cigars. The main characters drink a special kind of blue drink from a cocktail glass, though it's not clear whether it's alcoholic. (No intoxicating effects are shown.)

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Upside Down is a sci-fi romance set on another world. Violence is the biggest issue, though it's still fairly light: Expect a few shootouts, minor injuries, and a character being abducted and beaten up off screen. A dead body is also shown in an early scene, and a character tells how he was orphaned due to an explosion at an oil plant. Main characters kiss, and it's implied that they have sex (the woman becomes pregnant). There's no language other than one use of "God" and a middle finger gesture. A central character smokes a cigar. While the movie's visuals are impressive, the storytelling is subpar, so it's likely that only the most die-hard teen sci-fi fans will be able to enjoy the film.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bySheryl V. July 19, 2013

Get it from the library

The film was disappointing and could have been 45 minutes shorter. The characters were shallow and undeveloped, and the plot was thin. The color of the film w... Continue reading
Adult Written bydeidre1 September 7, 2015

Fun imaginative concept

My husband and I previewed it for appropriateness and had no issue. It held our interest, and even if it was scientifically implausible it was a fun, unique st... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byRachelWood March 22, 2013

Stunningly Gorgeous, CRAP storytelling

The visuals are stunning. You walk out of this movie and literally feel like your phone could fall up (I am seriously not kidding about that, it's almost n... Continue reading

What's the story?

Adam (Jim Sturgess) lives in an alternate universe in which the lower class walks right-side-up on the ground, and the upper class walks upside down on a kind of island in the sky. The two lands are linked by a huge corporate building where everyone works. Otherwise, any connection between the two worlds causes things to burn. As a boy, Adam met and fell in love with a girl from above. But now, as an adult, the grown-up Eden (Kirsten Dunst) has amnesia and doesn't remember him. Adam cooks up a complex scheme to get a job in the big building and woo her again. Meanwhile, a special kind of pink bee pollen is the only thing that connects the two worlds -- and could be the answer to all of Adam's problems.

Is it any good?

Award-winning Argentinean short film director Juan Solanas' English-language feature debut will surely wow audiences with awesome visuals, but floor them with terrible storytelling. The movie begins with the hero (Jim Sturgess) explaining the rules of the universe to us and then spends the next 98 minutes trying to avoid and/or ignore those rules. It can make a viewer's head spin trying to ask questions about how and why anything works.

If, somehow, viewers can forgive and get beyond the flimsy rules of this sci-fi universe, then they have the icky, overcooked romance to contend with. The exchanges between the two main characters are cringe inducing. Worse than failing to generate chemistry, it's a wonder how the one-dimensional Eden would ever look twice at the weird, creepy Adam (Sturgess' performance is irritatingly unbalanced). By the time the final narration kicks in, it's hard not to groan.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Upside Down's violence. How much of it was necessary to tell the story?

  • How would a world evolve in which one group was considered "better" than another group? Can you think of any other stories or real-life examples with this same theme?

  • What questions would you ask a scientist about how the Upside Down world works?

  • Was Adam's quest for love selfish or selfless?

Movie details

For kids who love romance

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