Upside Down Movie Poster Image

Upside Down

(i)

 

Sci-fi romance has great visuals but poor storytelling.
  • Review Date: March 12, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
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.)

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 15, 2013
DVD release date:June 25, 2013
Cast:Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall
Director:Juan Solanas
Studio:Millennium Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some violence

This review of Upside Down was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 nauseating). Getting used to the gravity difference is also a great mind boggle. And just the skies and landscapes and the colorful atmospheres are just beautifully expressed visually. But warn you the story is crap and awful and could definitely use a HUGE do over. Half of it didn't make sense, the other half was corny and stupid. I'd give the story telling zero stars if I could. However the only reason I'd still say go see this is for the visuals. And that moment when you stand up afterwards and feel like all your popcorn should be falling to the ceiling.
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bySavvy5753 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 was annoying too. It had a 3-D quality without being a 3-D film. I'm glad I checked it out from the library and didn't see it in the theater.
Parent 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 story concept. We will let our teens watch it without reservation, and may even let the 10yo watch. Its not brilliant, but it is entertaining.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?