Wildlike

Movie review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Wildlike Movie Poster Image
Profound coming-of-age drama deals with edgy topics.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You can run from your problems, but you can't hide from them; it's important to find someone you trust to help you overcome them. Even though our loved ones die, we can still find ways to stay connected to them. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although he's initially seen as a grumpy loner, Bart becomes a trustworthy father figure to Mackenzie. He teaches her how to survive in the wild and continues to help her survive after learning why she ran away from home.

Violence

It's implied that Mackenzie's uncle touches her inappropriately, but she later says nothing happened. Bart and Mackenzie briefly see a bear in the wilderness.

Sex

While wearing only a towel, Mackenzie kisses a boy in a hotel room. She later removes her shirt and attempts to kiss Bart while they're sharing a tent. 

Language

Several uses of "s--t," and "f--k." A couple uses of "jerk," "hell," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and "oh my God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wildlike is a coming-of-age drama/adventure about a 14-year-old girl who runs away from home and embarks on a journey across the Alaskan wilderness with an unlikely father figure who helps her learn how to face her problems. The movie discusses mature topics like sexual abuse -- it's implied that an uncle inappropriately touches his teenage niece in bed -- and grief. There isn't any violence, but characters do use salty language, including variations of "s--t" and "f--k," plus "jerk" and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). There's also some kissing and scenes of a girl wearing just a towel and taking off her shirt.

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What's the story?

In Wildlike, 14-year-old Mackenzie (Ella Purnell) is sent to live with her uncle (Brian Geraghty) in Juneau, Alaska, while her mother seeks treatment (for an unspecified condition) in Seattle. When her uncle betrays her trust and their relationship turns sour, Mackenzie runs away and must figure out how to make it back to safety. Without a plan or anyone she can trust, her connection with lone backpacker Rene "Bart" Bartlett (Bruce Greenwood) becomes Mackenzie's only chance of survival. Although Bart reluctantly lets Mackenzie shadow him across the Alaskan wild, the two form an incredible bond and learn how to face their problems.

Is it any good?

Frank Hall Green's profound coming-of-age drama/adventure may often move slowly, but it delicately explores mature topics like grief and sexual abuse. Purnell shines as the misunderstood Mackenzie, who relies on facial expressions and body language to convey her angst. Although her interactions with her uncle are revealed through text messages and voicemails, it doesn't belittle the seriousness of sexual abuse. Instead, it mirrors her fear to open up to others and her desperation to find someone she can trust. And as Mackenzie ventures further into the wild, her conversations with Bart, Jeanie (Ann Dowd), and Masafumi (Tom Okamoto) help her understand that running away isn't the answer and that it takes time to heal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wildlike's messages. What point is it trying to make? Is it successful? What audience do you think it's trying to reach? How can you tell?

  • Teens: If you found out that someone you knew had an experience like Mackenzie's, what would you do? Do you think it was handled correctly in the movie? Who can you turn to in a situation like this?

  • Do you think it was OK for Bart to read Mackenzie's text messages?

Movie details

For kids who love adventure and drama

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