Don’t Make Me Go parents guide

Don’t Make Me Go Parent Guide

A gosh-awful plot twist and negative content ruin the potential of this emotionally authentic film.

Overall C-

Amazon Prime: Max has received a frightening diagnosis and is facing death or a risky operation. Unsure how to tell his daughter, he decides to take her on an unforgettable summer road trip.

Release date July 15, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is Don’t Make Me Go rated R? The MPAA rated Don’t Make Me Go R for sexual content, graphic nudity, language, and teen drinking.

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Dedicated single father Max (John Cho) has just received devastating news. His chronic headaches aren’t just the result of stress: he has a rare form of cancer that will kill him, likely within a year. The recommended surgery has a low likelihood of success and high risks of death or serious damage.

Terrified of leaving his teenage daughter, Wally (Mia Isaac), alone after his demise, Max drags her off on a cross-country road trip, ostensibly to attend his college reunion but really to find her mother, who abandoned them years ago. As they cruise the endless highways, Max imparts life lessons (mixed in with terrifying driving tutorials) and Wally helps her dad see the world through her eyes.

The entire movie hinges on the relationship between Max and Wally and thankfully the actors are up to the task. Both characters have consistent, believable emotions and their interactions are authentic. Wally frequently indulges in risky or thoughtless behavior, but it’s not unexpected for a teenager and her father provides an appropriate mix of consequences and compassion. The best reason to sit through the film is to watch their relationship unfold and observe how their love for one another powerfully influences them. This is a great tribute to the power of the bond between fathers and daughters.

Sadly, for me that’s the only reason to watch the movie. I dislike the entire genre of “cancer movies”: in a world full of pain and suffering why on earth would anyone spend their free time watching people die as their loved ones mourn? I know some viewers find these films inspirational but I just find them gut-clenching. Don’t Make Me Go is even worse than the average cancer flick, saddled as it is with a plot twist that had me yelling at my screen, completely enraged at the writers. So, yes, this movie has some fun, tender, poignant moments, but it also has whole scenes that will leave you depressed, angry, or sobbing uncontrollably. If that’s your thing, I’m not going to judge you, but I’m not making the popcorn either.

What I am going to do is warn parents about the content issues in the movie. The most glaring is a repeated scene that takes place on a nude beach – and I mean nudity in a 360° sense. There is explicit breast and genital nudity and although it’s not sexual, it’s certainly graphic. Non-explicit sex (in a “booty call” context) and teen make-out sessions also ramp up the negative content. In addition, the movie features frequent scenes of alcohol consumption some of which involve excessive drinking and intoxication by underage teens. Throw in over three dozen swear words (including three sexual expletives) and this is definitely not a family film.

As I think about this film, my strongest feeling is frustration. There’s some real human emotion here and a truly moving examination of how parents and kids change each other. Sadly, the negative content problems and the horrendous plot twist turn what could have been a magical little film into a bang-your-head-against-the-wall exercise in aggravation.

Directed by Hannah Marks. Starring John Cho, Mia Isaac, and Kaya Scodelario. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release July 15, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Don’t Make Me Go

Don’t Make Me Go
Rating & Content Info

Why is Don’t Make Me Go rated R? Don’t Make Me Go is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, graphic nudity, language, and teen drinking.

Violence: Men have a fist fight. There are scenes of reckless driving.
Sexual Content:   People are seen on a nude beach: breasts, genitals, and buttocks are visible in a non-sexual context.  A teen rearranges her breasts to provide a more explicit photo. There’s mention of “nip pics”.  There are scenes of girls and guys kissing passionately. Teens remove their shirts and kiss. There’s mention of condoms. Teens have crude sexual conversations. A man and woman have sex: there is no explicit nudity. There’s mention of a booty call. A teen comments on a girl’s breasts. A boy puts his hand down a girl’s pants. A girl is pressured to send revealing pictures to a guy.  There’s mention of adultery.
Profanity:  There are approximately three dozen swear words in the movie, including three sexual expletives, 16 terms of deity, 13 scatological curses, and a few crude anatomical terms. A slang term for male genitalia is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults and teenagers drink alcohol on several occasions in social settings. Young people play drinking games that involve consuming large amounts of alcohol.

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Don’t Make Me Go Parents' Guide

Why does Max decide not to have surgery? Do you agree with his choice? Do you think he’s being pragmatic or cowardly?

What lessons do Max and Wally learn from each other? What lessons have you learned from your family members? Has spending time with a family member ever changed your perspective on something?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

There’s no shortage of either family road trip or dying-of-cancer movies. Whatever you’re looking for in these genres, here are some that come to mind.

When a young mother learns that she has terminal cancer, her husband’s best friend moves in to help. Our Friend is a gut-wrenching, inspirational tale of the power of friendship in the darkest times. In All My Life, a young man learns that he has incurable cancer: his steadfast fiancée decides to move up the wedding and cherish their remaining time. Daryn knows that the girl he has a crush on is harboring a secret. When he learns that she has ovarian cancer and only a year to live, he decides to create milestone experiences so she can enjoy Life in a Year. A real life cancer story, Clouds recounts Zach Sobiech’s final battle with cancer – and his blockbuster hit song. If you could use some cheer after all these sorrowful films, you will want to find Spidermable: A Real Life Superhero Story. This touching documentary follows the adventures of Mable Tooke, a child with cancer who dreams of being Spider-Man, a dream that comes true thanks to the volunteers at the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

Three words strike fear into my heart: “family road trip” but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from making movies featuring cross country family trips. One of the most fun is The Mitchells vs the Machines, an animated sci-fi story about a quirky family that saves the world from a robot apocalypse. In Onward, two brothers take a hazardous journey to complete a magic spell so they can spend 24 hours with their deceased father.