Parents' Guide to

Words on Bathroom Walls

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Thoughtful YA adaptation has talented cast, heavy themes.

Movie PG-13 2020 111 minutes
Words on Bathroom Walls Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 17+

Eye Opening

This movie is well written and well acted. It is not intended as a docudrama about schizophrenia. It does however touch on some very important truths about the way the public views this chemical disorder.
age 13+

interesting and inspiring

At the beginning of the movie some people might not like it a lot because of the language, but trust me, during the rest of the movie a lot of interesting things happens. In the end, there is a great message about family and friends' support. There are also reflections about mental health and how to enjoy life even with our limitations. I also cried like a baby at the end lol!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (9 ):

A cynic might see this as another sick-kid YA drama, but thanks to a talented ensemble, this coming-of-age film is about more than mental illness and gives agency to the person with a diagnosis. Freudenthal, working off a screen adaptation by Peter McNulty, depicts Adam's schizophrenia as a sort of living Inside Out, with the three characters personifying different personality traits. It's a relatable way to approach the topic and in keeping with the book (with some tweaks that work better on-screen). Plummer and Russell -- who were both wonderful in Looking for Alaska and Waves, respectively -- give nuanced and powerful performances as Adam and Maya. Their friendship and then relationship aren't based on a terminal-illness urgency or any typical high school cliché.

Like many teen films, Words on Bathroom Walls has a compelling soundtrack, this time courtesy of Grammy-winning EDM duo The Chainsmokers, who composed their first film score for the movie. The pulsing beats mirror Adam's emotions and stand out particularly when he's happy (cooking, with Maya or his mom) or upset. And the adult supporting cast is almost unexpectedly good for such small roles. Props to the filmmakers for portraying the close bond between Adam and his mom and for tackling the nuanced difficulties of creating a blended family. Parker is always wonderful, and it's a pleasure to see Goggins, so at ease with heavies and scoundrels, playing a truly good guy. Words on Bathroom Walls continues to show that Hollywood is much better at turning out quality adaptations of contemporary, realistic-fiction young adult literature than the much harder to capture sci-fi/fantasy adventures.

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