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The Lifeguard Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 20

    out of 100

    Village Voice Ernest Hardy

    From concept to execution to tone, writer-director Liz W. Garcia's The Lifeguard is a lifeless misfire.

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  • 30

    out of 100

    Variety Peter Debruge

    Lambert brings a forlorn dimension to his seductive young role, but Bell never really convinces as the older woman. Despite flirting with controversy, the actress seems reluctant to plunge fully into potential unlikability, nor does the film quite give her the chance.

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  • 30

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Justin Lowe

    Surprisingly for a writer turned director, the most evident shortcomings with Garcia’s feature originate with the script. With barely any backstory to support them, the characters consistently appear to lack the motivations necessary for their actions.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    The New York Times Nicolas Rapold

    This directorial debut by Liz W. Garcia, a writer for television, bears some echoes of its creator’s origins, going from deft to trite in its drama and setting up character arcs that feel sappily resolved within its feature length.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Gary Goldstein

    The Lifeguard is a watchable, emotionally redolent trip down one woman's memory lane.

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  • See all The Lifeguard reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 17 & under

Drama is short on story, long on illicit romance.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Lifeguard is about an unhappy 29-year-old New York reporter (Kristen Bell) who chucks it all to move back in with her parents in her sleepy Connecticut hometown. Soon, she's hanging out with her high school pals in the same old parking lot, and it's not long before she becomes involved with a high school boy who's just slightly more than half her age. There are several explicit sex scenes (including one in which a man's genitals are seen), as well as frequent swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), and lots of drinking and pot smoking.

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts drinking and drug use. What role do they play in Leigh/her friends' life? Are their consequences? Are they realistic?
  • How does Leigh's arrival in her hometown affect the other people around her, including her mother and her old friends? Is it true that "you can't go home again"?
  • What do you think about Leigh and Jason's relationship? What draws them together? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: You can't recapture your high school glory days, and you can't regain those lazy days with almost no responsibilities. These are tough lessons that 29-year-old Leigh has to learn after she abandons her life in New York and moves back in with her parents in suburban Connecticut.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Leigh is a bit of a slacker, quitting her job as a New York journalist, moving back to her suburban hometown, getting a job as a summer lifeguard, and hanging out with high school kids. Her best friends aren't much better, and they all seem to be reverting back to their teens, hanging out in parking lots after school and traipsing out to the woods to smoke pot.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Some arguments between friends and couples, and one disturbing scene that comes in the aftermath of a tragedy.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The main character, a 29-year-old woman, becomes involved with a 16-year-old boy, and there are several graphic sex scenes, including oral sex and vigorous thrusting. Another scene shows a married couple starting to get involved in oral sex; the man's penis is seen.

  • language false3

    Language: Frequent swearing throughout the film includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "d--k," and more. One scene shows tween boys yelling "f--k off, bitch" to an adult woman.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Several scenes take place in and around one character's Toyota.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: People drink wine, beer, and harder drinks while socializing and at parties. Several people regularly smoke cigarettes, and a few scenes show people smoking pot and acting high.