Parents' Guide to

When I Find the Ocean

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Heavy historical drama tackles abuse, racism, runaways.

Movie PG 2006 104 minutes
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This movie's heart is in the right place, promoting tolerance, honesty, and decency, but it does all these things so simplistically that it's difficult to take in all the positive messages. Lily is portrayed with affectless blankness, leaving an emotional hole at the center of the story. Many scenes feel staged and lifeless, drawing attention to directorial ineptitude rather than to the historical legacy of prejudice and the ugliness that rode along with it. To their credit, the filmmakers make little overt attempt to explain social upheaval and the politics behind the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Still, the script is facile to the degree that it sometimes forgets to adhere to internal logic that's been established earlier. Ham-handed metaphors stand in for adroit storytelling. As the story winds down, there is a mad scurry to tie up loose plot threads, and several endings are presented one by one, including a quick cut to the panther, safely back in the woods, perhaps metaphorically suggesting that African-American people are safe now.

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