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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You need to find a balance between trying to be everyone's friend all the time and completely shutting yourself off from others. True friendship takes trust, and trust takes time to build. It's OK to take some risks as long as you're responsible and go about it in a safe manner. You have to try things to find out whether you can do them, but you're capable of more than you think.
Positive Role Models
Nicolette is a good person who genuinely wants to help Chloe but is struggling with how to pursue acting and making some poor choices. She regrets the bad decisions, learns from them. Chloe, cut off and stifled by an overprotective mother, is determined to try things she's afraid of, discover her capabilities on her own, if necessary. Both are positive representations of body types that are larger than vast majority seen in most media. Nicolette is concerned about gaining weight, briefly mentions calorie counting and tracking apps. Chloe's mother has debilitating fears of many things related to Chloe's well-being.
Violence & Scariness
An instance of verbal hostility about how much Chloe eats and "queen bee" behavior.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One instance of having sex implied by dialogue. A kiss, caressing, an open shirt, helping with some ties in the back of a dress.
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"S--t," "f--k," and "prat."
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Products & Purchases
A local bakery's cupcakes are featured in one scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Red cups and a suggestion of needing to drink more at a college graduation party. An adult asks the main characters if they smoke pot; when they say they don't, she says she could really use a doobie.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What Lies West is a quirky friendship drama about a college graduate and a 16-year-old who set out on a four-day hike through Sonoma County without telling the teen's mother. There's very little content of concern, but there's some rare but strong profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t." Dialogue, a kiss, and helping get dressed imply a couple just had sex. College graduates drink at a party, and a woman says she could really use a doobie. Themes explored include friendship, trust, dealing with strangers, conquering fears, body image, and self-esteem. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is an earnest friendship-adventure story with quirky characters that unfortunately falls short in a few areas so that it doesn't feel especially deep or intimate. Not many characters are very well developed, so they feel hard to really understand. And the plot has a few holes, so certain things don't make much sense no matter how you try to interpret them. Still, at its heart is a quirky, unlikely friendship story that teens can enjoy. Older teens will relate to Nicolette as she tries to figure out her life and pursue her dream. Younger teens will relate to Chloe's need to prove herself, to herself and to her mother. There's also a very strong sense of place, so that people who know and love Sonoma County, or who hope to visit someday, will enjoy the beautiful scenery and backdrops that capture its unique essence.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.