All Together Now Parent Guide
An appealing protagonist and clean content make this a good choice for teen viewing.
Parent Movie Review
Amber Appleton (Auli’i Cravalho) is living her life with cheerful enthusiasm. The teenager runs the school’s annual variety show, teaches English to elderly women, volunteers at a seniors’ home, works at a donut shop, and makes breakfast for an autistic friend every morning. She also has a secret: Amber and her mother, Becky (Justina Machado) are homeless and spend their nights in the school bus Becky drives. Even homelessness isn’t enough to quench Amber’s irrepressible optimism. Invited to audition for a spot in Carnegie Mellon University’s drama program, Amber redoubles her efforts to save enough money for the airfare to the audition and the deposit on an apartment. But when her mother gets fired for sleeping in the bus, one tragedy follows another and it seems that Amber might have lost her ability to bounce back…
The best part of All Together Now is Amber, played by Auli’i Cravalho with an infectious optimism and energy. Amber’s energy, enthusiasm, resilience, and fierce independence make her a highly appealing protagonist. Director Brett Haley is careful not to make everything too rosy: Amber lives with fear and uncertainty due to her lack of a home and she has fallen into a caretaker role for her mother, trying to keep her sober and managing her emotional state. This dark background makes her sunny approach to life all the more remarkable. Haley has also given Amber her own weaknesses, particularly the downside to her independence. As her friend, Ty (Rhenzy Feliz) points out when Amber is in desperate straits, “What’s so bad about needing help? Like if you don’t do it all alone you’re weak?”
Unlike most fluffy teen films, All Together Now is chock full of issues that parents can discuss with their kids. It’s a great jumping off point for conversations about homelessness – causes, potential solutions (governmental and private), and how to help. The movie also leads into discussions about emotional resilience and nurturing an optimistic outlook on life, even when circumstances are difficult. Domestic violence and addiction also come up in the film and can trigger communication about recognizing problems and receiving help. Families can also talk about balancing independence with accepting help when necessary. Best of all, this substantive content comes with very little negative content - five very minor swear words are pretty much it. In the world of teen movies, which are usually full of profanity, alcohol and drug use, and sexual activity or innuendo, this film is a breath of fresh air.
The film isn’t perfect, despite its thoughtful messages and charming, diverse cast. (When was the last time you saw a teen with autism and one in a wheelchair both mainstreamed into the same movie?) The plot is predictable and a touch manipulative and the resolution can feel a bit too simple. For a movie centered on a girl who loves to sing, there’s precious little music. But parents looking for clean, thoughtful options for family movie night can be reassured that they can gather their teens together in front of this film without regret.Directed by Brett Haley. Starring Auli’i Cravalho, Rhenzy Feliz, Justina Machado. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release September 11, 2020. Updated October 29, 2020
Watch the trailer for All Together Now
All Together Now
Rating & Content Info
Why is All Together Now rated PG? All Together Now is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content, some language and brief suggestive comments
Violence: There is mention of people dying in a car accident. There is mention of a man hitting his girlfriend.
Sexual Content: A young man and woman hold hands and kiss. A woman mentions “hooking up”: no detail.
Profanity: There are five minor profanities in the movie, including three terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are a few mentions of a recovering alcoholic having some drinks. Drunk driving leads to deaths: this occurs off-screen. No alcohol is consumed on screen.
Page last updated October 29, 2020
All Together Now Parents' Guide
Amber is concerned about her mother’s drinking problem and assumes responsibility for monitoring her alcohol consumption and moods. Teenagers who are living with alcoholic relatives can reach out to Alateen for help.
Al-Anon Family Groups: Teen Corner
Over three million people in the US are homeless – and that number is likely to rise as job losses pile up from the coronavirus epidemic. How does homelessness affect children and families? What programs are available to help homeless people in your area? How have some communities successfully managed homelessness? What can you do to help the homeless?
National Alliance to End Homelessness: Ending Homelessness
The Atlantic: How Can the US End Homelessness?
The most recent home video release of All Together Now movie is August 28, 2020. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
In The Kissing Booth 2, a teenager enters a dance competition in hopes that the prize money will pay for her university dreams.
High School Musical features talented students performing in their annual production.
In The Blind Side, a homeless teenager is taken in by a family at his school, who help him achieve his dream of playing football. The Pursuit of Happyness features a father who tries to keep his son’s spirits up as they go through a period of homelessness. The Public examines the plight of the homeless and the role of libraries and other public institutions in helping them.
Another film that features a protagonist who remains upbeat in the face of adversity is Five Feet Apart. Stella has cystic fibrosis, but she doesn’t let it stop her from enjoying life and a first love.