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The Lifeguard More at IMDbPro »

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72 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Touching, misunderstood, underrated. Worth watching.

Author: Eleni from Greece
4 September 2013

I couldn't believe the 5.5 average! People act like this movie is your guide to having sex with minors! Did they not see the rest of the movie? The tag line "this summer growing up is optional" is misplaced, because it makes you think this is a comedy; well it isn't. And maybe that's a reason why so many people didn't like it? They wanted to see a comedy and ended up with a sad not-yet-mid-life crisis drama. Or maybe when you can't relate to the problems the movie is dealing with, it's easy to focus simply on the love story and miss the point? This is a powerful character movie where every one of the main characters shows us something to relate too, or, as I perceived it, they all portray sides of the same issue.

Leigh (Kristen Bell) feels confused, depressed, lost. She is almost 30 years old and realizes she doesn't want to keep on living a life that does not fulfill her. She shouldn't have to. Leigh wants to feel alive again, she is tired of not being happy. "You look sad" Jason says to her, and that's exactly how she looks. She was a valedictorian, with high expectations, and then when she did grow up, it is not nice as promised. She wants to escape, bury her head in the sand, feel good again, feel alive. Is it bad to want to feel good? When Jason holds her in his arms, towering over her as she is so petite, she looks sheltered again, and "you will never be sheltered again", she tells Jason. She is "sucking his youth like a vampire".

Todd (Martin Starr) and Mel (Mamie Gummer) are Leigh's high-school friends. Todd, still living in a small town, still in the closet, works a job where he will not be missed if he goes away for half an hour. He looks sad too. "Why don't you leave?" Matty asks the obvious question; "I just can't". Inertia, fear. Growing-up (for real) is scary. The look on his face when Mel yells at him "what's wrong with you?", is so real, he looks so hurt. When Leigh starts her "escape trip" he is eager to follow. We will see him fall low in the process, but at the end, really grow. Martin Starr, and Kristen Bell as well, prove here that they can be great in non-comedic roles as well. Mel also follows her two friends in their carefree journey, although reluctantly. She looks like she has her life together. Married, a vice-principal, trying to get pregnant. A responsible grown-up. The picture of the perfect life, but she is stressed and unhappy. That "perfect" mold doesn't quite fit her. At the end, she get's to be more conscious of her wants and her choices.

To relive their youth, Leigh, Todd and Mel hang out with a group of 16-year-old boys, who are in their turn frustrated with being misunderstood teenagers in a small town. The interactions between the two age groups were beautiful, as each learns and grows from the other. The young cast was excellent too. Especially David Lambert as Jason, who did a great job looking like the mixture of child and adult that a teenager is.

The setting of the pool, Leigh's pale looks, the nature hikes, the quiet gas station at night, create a fitting melancholic atmosphere to surround the story. When the characters grow up at the end, Jason and Todd for the first time, Leigh and Mel for a second time, it's a mature choice, a step forwards. Time does only move in one direction, but swimming is different than just floating along.

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37 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Satisfying Story of Young Adult Indecision

Author: Matthew Bonness from Washington, DC
30 July 2013

I've got no experience with Veronica Mars, but I can see why people like Kristen Bell. She's real and relatable, as are all of the characters in this film.

At age 29, with her life in the city more disheartening and less complete than she ever expected, Kristen Bell's Leigh heads back home, where her two best friends (Mammie Gummer of The Good Wife and the familiar Martin Starr of Freaks and Geeks and about a million other comedies) are leading lives equally unperfected. During her aimless summer in her home town, she crosses paths with the local drop-outs, played sensitively and convincingly by a trio of young actors, including recently discovered teen actor Alex Shaffer of the Paul Giamatti film Win, Win, in a supporting role. Youthful indiscretions can't really cohabit with adult responsibilities, and the dramatic tension is ratcheted-up (if also resolved fairly easily) in sincere ways.

Nice production and a convincing story of early middle-age indecision with nuanced acting by a strong cast of recognizable faces adds up to a satisfying film.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

heavily dependant on life circumstances

Author: manicmeuk from United Kingdom
31 August 2013

where to start on this one...

i think opinions on this film will be formed from personal life experience and how much someone can relate to the characters. myself, I'm similar in age and circumstance to Leigh and recently made a life change much like hers (moving back home from the city) and while the mistakes and tumbles she makes are outright irresponsible, i could not help but like her character and the maturity she showed at the end.

the romance aspect of this movie, whilst most definitely *inappropriate* does reflect the mental state of the main female character played by Kristen bell. stifled by her routine adult life and the responsibilities that come with it, she finds solace in a younger group who bring out her inner teen as it were. i think this is extremely well portrayed in the film through the three main adult cast members, who were friends in highschool, that upon the return of Leigh (KB) all suddenly start to regress and rebel against the adult strains put on them. all three characters go a little wild and forget that 'time only moves in one direction' and their subsequent battles to re-balance themselves as adults was interesting to watch.

the strength of the young actors in this film prevented it from becoming smut. David Lambert had enough charisma that it was plausible that a confused and disturbed woman would be drawn to him, whilst still maintaining that young innocence that made the story equally as much about him maturing as it was about KBs character. Alex Shaffer was impressive and moving in his portrayal of a tormented young man.

could it have been done better? absolutely. does it contain inappropriate feelings and relationships...obviously yes. Does it convey the ability of people to mess up in the most stupid irresponsible ways....yup. i liked it. i wouldn't watch it again, but it was a good film. comedy it is not however and the tag-line cheapens the movie.

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33 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

The Lifeguard Review

Author: Marios Betancur
31 July 2013

Liz W. Garcia may not be the most veteran film director out there, but her new movie, The Lifeguard, may very well bring her name to the forefront of director's putting forth real quality work. Garcia is normally a screenwriter which is why I felt that The Lifeguard was a movie that captures the real spirit of people in a quarter life crisis. As I am 22, I felt like I could relate to the struggles, protagonist, Leigh deals with in her effort to relive the simplicity and innocence of her childhood home in Connecticut. Overall, the story is brought to new heights with the outstanding performances by a cast including the likes of Veronica Mar's star Kristen Bell and Freaks and Geeks alum Martin Starr. Garcia really hits home with a story that will resonate with young adults everywhere, reminding us all that growing up never gets any easier.

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29 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

What a movie!

Author: Adriano_Galliani from Serbia
24 September 2013

I'm voting 10, solely to bring the points up, but movie isn't that great. Its around 8 at its best. But, come on, 5.5?!!

On the other hand, this is one though, SOB kinda movie. Its really hard to understand, and hard to love it. We less fortunate - we dig it and we dig it deep and completely. True beauty of this flick is in the "wholesomeness" of the Big Picture - and it seems too heavy for most American viewers to understand it. Yeah, there is age difference, but thats completely out of the point. I myself was in the similar position not that long time ago and we weren't the friends :D Thats why I could see some of the masters work by Bell - her face when Little Jason is starting his story. It goes from focusing attention to smile, but that is one really specific smile - it comes from the heart.

Let me tell you - Kristen Bell is pure magic. She already had me in Veronica Mars, but this is much better. Shes magnificent artist and now I understand why she done this movie. It fits her really well.

Also, writing is really original - no big "turnover", no "comeback", not a f***n happy ending - it ends but end is not really an end. You're left with a though of love between Leigh and Jayson, but with a kind of hope.

Like I said, most Americans defines their relationship as "statuary rape" and have a panic attack when movie didn't teach us that their this were wrong. Well, this is obviously a hard thing to swallow. Judgment is left to us, the viewers. If you need a frikin confirmation of yours beliefs, what kind of beliefs are those? ofc its immoral, questionable, unfair to the younger partner, but that was a love on a first sight.

I was really depressed in the end, especially cause I expected from the poster for this movie to be some kind of mindless fun with Veronica Mars. Hot blonde, bathing suite, underage teenagers.. Lets rock'n'roll! Lets push the boundaries really far, far away.. And this movie did it - it awakens true feelings and some painful memories and its REAL. Unlike most hollywoodesque garbage nowdays with utter boring scripts, this one feels like real life. Its ART. Its not "best movie of our times", there are a lot of flaws, but its much closer to the ART than all the Batmans in this cruel world.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A Drama about Searching for Fulfillment

Author: atlasmb from United States
3 December 2013

If you are looking for a neat package of a film with all the loose ends tied up with a pretty ribbon, this film is not for you. And as we all know, life is not that way either.

If seeing an older woman with a young man nauseates you, don't watch this film. Frankly, I wonder why some people never read about movies before they watch them. Then they are shocked to discover the themes of the movie.

Kristen Bell plays a 29-year-old woman who has grown disenchanted with the big city and her life there. She returns to the small town where she grew up, and moves back in with her parents.

This action can be described as irresponsible, simply because she is looking for a respite from responsibility. In fact, she returns to the Lifeguarding job she used to have.

She reconnects with old friends who have remained in the home town. They also have issues regarding responsibility and self-actualization.

In an attempt to regain the freedom of youth--and its passion--they start hanging out with some high school kids. This leads to some risky behavior. The rest of the plot relates to how this dangerous situation plays out.

I thought the acting was good. I especially enjoyed seeing Amy Madigan as the mother. Back in the day, I really enjoyed her in To Live and Die in L.A.

The movie Lifeguard, starring Sam Eliott in 1976, also dealt with a main character who is a lifeguard and who struggles with the issue of responsibility. I recommend it.

The main thing I can say about this movie is that it feels something like how real life is. People make mistakes. People come to crossroads. People sometimes search for answers without really having a clear understanding of the questions.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Kristen Bell gets an A for effort

Author: callanvass from victoria b.c canada
12 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A reporter (Kristen Bell) quits her job due to unhappiness and contempt for her job. She decides to return home to Conneticut, and moves in with her parents. She gets her old lifeguard job back, and starts up a controversial relationship with a troubled teenager, and even alienates her childhood friends. This movie is a bit better than the IMDb rating indicates. It's certainly flawed, but the fantastic performances and the powerful subject nature help propel it over the hump. I think the reason I was able to relate to this movie, despite the fact that it left me feeling a little cold was that I'm in a similar predicament that Leigh (Kristen Bell) is in during this movie. I may not have fallen in love with a teenager, but my life fell apart as soon as I began to grow up. It's only natural to revisit the place where you last felt truly happy. My main problem with this movie is that everybody is in disarray, and they are unlikable people. Leigh only cares about herself, Mel (Mamie Gummer) is a head-case, and her husband (Joshua Harto) is a selfish ingrate, who I wanted to slap silly. His whiny character was so grating. We get the obligatory ending where everybody begins to find themselves, and all is forgiven. The storyline between Bell & Todd (The teenage love interest for Bell) was especially hard to endure. Kristen Bell is absolutely terrific. It might just be her best performance. Her character is a bit unlikable and selfish, but she is so winning in her role, that it didn't bother me all that much. I'd gladly try and help sort her life out. Martin Starr is truly impressive as the teenager, Todd. I felt for him on many occasions, even if his character background was a bit thin. I'm not sure what I fully thought about this movie. It left me in heavy thought, it engrossed me, and I admired the message, but more likable characters would have been nice. It's worth a watch


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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Bell Chimes Loudly in a Lackluster Film

Author: danew13 from United States
10 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Lifeguard's script was its weak point...a rather shallow pad job for a film that could have been 20 minutes shorter. It strong points were performances by Kristen Bell and Mammie Gummer. It was great to see Bell, sans makeup, in a serious dramatic role, even though it was this rather lightweight domestic chick flick. One thing, it's obvious this wasn't intended to be a comedy.

I disagree with some other reviews knocking the two female leads. Both seemed quite realistic to me in our hedonistic age. As for Bell's trysts with her teenage lover...that seems to happen quite frequently in real life these days. It's just lucky that in the film the boy's father didn't mind.

The main downside of the story was the lack of any dramatic resolution. Bell's character wound up getting into a purely sexual relationship, the same type that had her flee from the big city to her hometown. And in the end she still hasn't found love.

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27 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Bad Plot Development? Oh well, Kirsten Bell!

Author: tomcatjak from United States
1 August 2013

Going into this movie, I didn't know much about it. I had seen a few previews in theaters and I had seen it promoted online a few times. Beyond that, I hadn't even thought about this movie.

As far as comedy goes, the movie isn't really funny. It has a few "haha" scenes but I don't see why they labeled this as a comedy, it has very dark themes such as depression, drugs, and sexual relationships with minors.

I didn't know where they were trying to go with the plot. It was undeveloped and shallow. I didn't have any idea what kind of people the characters were even by the end of the movie, there was little to no background on all of the characters. The most comical of all of the characters was the seeming role reversal of two of the characters, you had a control freak husband and all he cares about is starting a family, while all the wife wants to do is go out and have fun. It just doesn't seem like it was practical. The relationships are just off.

I will say that Kirsten Bell looks fantastic in a swimsuit. If that's all you care about, you may enjoy the movie. However, if you expect a movie with a decent plot and story, you should probably skip this one. The Lifeguard certainly misses its target as a deep-thought movie.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

'The Summer of '42', just 70 years later.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
27 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We found this one on Netflix streaming movies. We found it to be better than the IMDb rating would suggest. It is a mature theme, a 29-yr-old high achieving lady working in Manhattan, about to turn 30, and both work and relationships conspire to throw her into a dark place.

Kristen Bell, who was actually about 32 during filming, is the main character, Leigh. We later find out she was class valedictorian some 12 years earlier, and none of her friends were surprised that she became an award-winning writer. But inside she was lost, and it seemed she just wanted to be a little girl again.

The movie isn't clear about where it is set, but we know it was filmed around the Pittsburgh area, and at least one of the teenagers was wearing a Pittsburgh tee-shirt. So I'll go with that. But it is an attractive suburban type of community, one where you can walk a short distance and be in the woods.

Leigh informs her parents that she will stay with them for a while. Aimless she decides to take a job she had as a teenager, lifeguard at the local pool. She meets some teen boys, about 16 and 17, and she instantly identifies with them.

This confuses her good friend from high school, Mamie Gummer as Mel, who is now assistant principal at the school they graduated from. Plus Mel has her own set of issues, she and her husband seem to be trying to get pregnant, but she isn't sure she would be a good mom. She regresses also to some "teenage" behavior.

The other key character is David Lambert as Little Jason, son of the pool maintenance man. (The character is 16 or 17, but Lambert was 19, almost 20 during filming.) He and Leigh seem to be kindred spirits, she helps him see the possibilities in life, while she sees him as the embodiment of the unfulfilled love life she thought she wanted.

I thought this might be a light romantic comedy but it is far from that. It is about coming of age, but with a twist that the two 30-ish women had never really come of age. There are some pretty raw and explicit scenes depicting sex between a 29-yr-old woman and a 16-yr-old boy, which is shocking to most. I instantly found myself wondering what if it had been a 29-yr-old man with a 16-yr-old girl. It seems movies are more accepting of a teenage boy and an older woman, as in "The Summer of '42" and "Life According to Garp", just to cite a couple of others.

It is hard to "rate" this movie, it isn't "enjoyable" in the usual sense but I found it to be very realistic, and it illustrates how navigating through life sometimes is very unclear. While Leigh was a writer, not a teacher, it seems virtually every week we read about a female teacher getting found out having an intimate relationship with one of her male students. The movie reflects real life.

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