Box art for The Lifeguard

The Lifeguard

comedy, drama

From Focus World & Screen Media, a 29 year old (Kristen Bell) reverts to teenage behavior when she flees back to her suburban hometown.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 17
Positive role models
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
5 out of 5
2 out of 5

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.

what families can talk about

  • 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.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 11
    see all The Lifeguard reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: As listless and self-regarding as its protagonist, flitting among underdeveloped characters and subplots and indulging in rote emo shots by the pool, yet never figuring out how to dive into the deep end.

- Eric Hynes, Time Out New York, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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

- Ernest Hardy, Village Voice, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fresh: Although writer-director Liz W. Garcia's wistful, angsty tale treads familiar ground, the filmmaker has crafted a credibly flawed and conflicted heroine who holds interest.

- Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, Friday, August 30, 2013

Audience Reviews

1 star

The Lifeguard is a film that could have actually made some significant contributions to conversations about slacker-life and the seemingly more frequent attempts of thirty-somethings wanting to shrug off all responsibilities and live life in the now abandoning all they have obligations to without a single care or concern for anything other than their own immediate gratification and happiness. It could have been that film ... if it were good. The Lifeguard tells the story of Leigh (Kristen Bell - "Veronica Mars"), a 29-year-old New Yorker who leaves the city after both her current job and relationship heads south. To recover, she heads back to her hometown and moves back into her bedroom at her parents' house and gets her old job back ... as a lifeguard at a sub-division's pool. Leigh shrugs off all responsibilities she has accumulated up to that point in life to focus on herself and her own happiness by even starting a new (disturbing) relationship with a troubled youth. By disregarding advice and helpful tips from others around her, Leigh plunges headfirst into disaster as her actions affect all of those closest to her (not just herself). The film is frustrating in that Leigh is a stubborn block-head who refuses to look at reality; but even with the unlike-able central character the film has several flaws. Mamie Gummer (Evening) is given her biggest role yet and she doesn't disappoint and is perhaps the best thing in The Lifeguard -- while she isn't her mother (Meryl Streep), she has talent. The Lifeguard is drowning in self-pity and it makes the film rather loathsome. Coming-of-age films are supposed to be about teenagers not self-pitying adults who want a do-over because they think they have made a bad choice several years back. The film is not enjoyable.

- ThomasJayWilliams, Monday, August 12, 2013

3 stars

Who doesn't wonder what it would be like to step back into the days of high school? The days before careers and serious relationships toiled our every day lives, when swimming at the local pool and the appropriate places to skateboard were your biggest worries. In "The Lifeguard", leading lady Kristen Bell takes that step back, after a piece of her writing is rejected from her newspaper and the affair she is having comes to a close. Director Liz W. Garcia may never be praised for this film, but to her defense, this independent film takes many distinct and unexpected turns which keep it, at least minimally fresh and a nice change of pace. Kristen Bell's character isn't the only one taking strides to change, as Bell herself takes on this role in a little Indie, something we haven't yet seen from her, and she dominates. Playing the flawed heroine, the first thing I noticed was the lack of make-up used in the film, which I wholly respect. She's gorgeous and there's no reason to cover that up. On top of that, she delivers a multi-layered performance, as her character falls down this underage rabbit hole, trying all she can to regain some semblance of youth before she turns 30. Although it could have easily spun into the normal rhetoric of sexual politics, especially with her blossoming romance with a boy half her age, but it stands its ground and I come to respect it more for that. The problem the film faces is its self-indulgence and slow pace, causing many viewers to cry boredom. But if you're willing to put in the time and can appreciate a methodical, older than usual coming of age story, along with an above par showing from Kristen Bell, then "The Lifeguard" might just be better than the critics are making it.

- xas5, Thursday, September 5, 2013

3 stars

three stars

- YodaMasterJedi, Wednesday, September 11, 2013