Look Both Ways parents guide

Look Both Ways Parent Guide

This is a well told story - or pair of stories - that raises some big questions.

Overall B-

Netflix: On the night before college graduation, Natalie's life diverges into two parallel realities, one in which she navigates motherhood in her hometown and one where she moves to L.A. to pursue a career.

Release date August 17, 2022

Violence A
Sexual Content C
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is Look Both Ways rated TV-14? The MPAA rated Look Both Ways TV-14 for language, substances, suggestive dialogue.

Run Time: 110 minutes

Parent Movie Review

A pregnancy test is all it takes to change the direction of Natalie’s (Lili Reinhart) life. An impulsive sexual encounter with her best friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez) has left her vomiting in the bathroom, desperately hoping she isn’t pregnant. When she tests positive, her dreams of moving to Los Angeles to create animated movies are abandoned and she returns home to have her baby.

But what if the test turned out negative? On an alternative life path, Natalie follows her dreams and heads for Hollywood. In sunny Southern California, she finds work and seeks her artistic voice, while developing a relationship with fellow cinephile Jake (David Corenswet).

Look Both Ways has an intriguing premise, although it isn’t a new one. Sliding Doors, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow trod the same path in 1998. That “what if” story was based on a main character either catching or missing a subway train, with life-altering results. Audiences watch as her life splits into two tracks, dovetailing at the end.

Director Wanuri Kahiu takes a simpler approach here, with Natalie’s stories existing separately. Both of her life paths see personal heartache, romantic relationships, and career struggles and achievement. The movie’s success is due to the script’s impartial attitude towards her dual trajectories: neither her parenting life or her single, career-focused life are seen as better or worse; more or less valuable. This is a great message for teens, emphasizing that there is no single route to happiness or personal fulfilment. The story also demonstrates that all lives have ups and downs and events that initially seem negative can have surprisingly positive outcomes. This is a film about emotional resilience, perseverance, goal-setting, and optimism, all of which are themes worth celebrating.

The downside is that these excellent messages come embedded in negative content. There’s some non-explicit sex, marijuana use, a whole lot of social drinking, and a significant amount of (mostly low level) profanity. Some parents will also be unhappy with the movie’s storyline around an unwed pregnant woman. However, abortion is never mentioned and is only referred to in the vaguest of terms, when Gabe says to Natalie, “This should be your choice. And I don’t mean that as a cop out. I’m pro-your-choice.”

Overall, Look Both Ways provides a thought-provoking storyline, ably delivered by a talented cast. It’s an entertaining 110 minutes and will make all viewers stop and think about their own “what ifs”. That’s an intriguing trip to take down Memory Lane and might lead to some interesting destinations.

Directed by Wanuri Kahiu. Starring Lili Reinhart, Luke Wilson, David Corenswet. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release August 17, 2022. Updated

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Look Both Ways
Rating & Content Info

Why is Look Both Ways rated TV-14? Look Both Ways is rated TV-14 by the MPAA for language, substances, suggestive dialogue.

Violence: None noted.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss in several scenes. A couple embrace on a bed and remove their shirts. There is no explicit activity but sex is implied and contraception was used. A woman takes a pregnancy test. Two woman kiss.
Profanity: The script contains over four dozen profanities, including 37 terms of deity, 10 scatological curses, three minor profanities, and a sexual expletive. (There is an incomplete sexual expletive and two sexual hand gestures.) There are three crude anatomical expressions (including one for female genitalia) and two uses of a crass term for women.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults frequently consume alcohol in social situations. A college party shows young adults drinking heavily and playing beer pong. A student drinks something (probably alcohol) from a flask in the library. Main characters smoke marijuana in a couple of scenes (although it should be noted that this is legal in the California setting).

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Look Both Ways Parents' Guide

Do you think either of Natalie’s life paths seems more fulfilling? Which one would you choose?

What character traits does Natalie have that help her thrive in both of her life trajectories?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Sliding Doors has a similar storyline, with a single moment determining the direction of a woman’s life.

In a world where the wealthy can afford time travel, their adventures cause events to shift in the worlds of ordinary people. In Needle in a Timestack, a man sees his relationship continually change thanks to the time traveling misdeeds of his wife’s ex.

The men of Tim’s family have the ability to travel through time. About Time tells his story as he bounces around time to correct his mistakes and have a perfect relationship.

A cynical TV weatherman winds up living the same day over and over again in Groundhog Day. With the new perspective this provides, he starts to reassess and eventually change his life. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is also based on a time loop. In this romantic drama, two teenagers are the only people in their town who realize that they are living the same day over and over again.