Words on Bathroom Walls parents guide

Words on Bathroom Walls Parent Guide

This is a genuinely thoughtful and sensitive movie that can encourage teens to view their atypical peers with compassion and understanding.

Overall B+

Digital on Demand: As if high school weren't hard enough, Adam is now seeing things that aren't there. Now he's hoping that an experimental drug will treat his schizophrenia and allow him to keep it a secret.

Release date December 4, 2020

Violence B-
Sexual Content B
Profanity C-
Substance Use B

Why is Words on Bathroom Walls rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Words on Bathroom Walls PG-13 for mature thematic content involving mental illness, some sexual references, strong language and smoking.

Run Time: 110 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Adam (Charlie Plummer) and his mom, Beth (Molly Parker) have been a team since Adam’s dad took off years ago. But life for Adam is getting more complicated by the second: Beth just brought home her new boyfriend, Paul (Walton Goggins), and more worryingly, Adam is now having alarming visual and auditory hallucinations. Following an incident at his high school and a diagnosis of schizophrenia, Adam finds himself on an experimental new medication and enrolled in a distant Catholic school. With the help of the startingly presumptive valedictorian, Maya (Taylor Russell), Adam manages to keep up with his coursework – but his medication is starting to have some strange side-effects, and keeping his illness hidden from his classmates is becoming increasingly difficult…

Schizophrenia has been given a truly horrifying reputation, and movies haven’t helped. Films like Split portray individuals with schizophrenia as violent maniacs with a taste for murder. Unsurprisingly, this type of sensational portrayal make things worse for people struggling with this neurological disorder. People diagnosed with schizophrenia (about 1 percent of the global population) need support and understanding, not vilification.

Miraculously, Words on Bathroom Walls is strongly in favor of support and understanding. Nearly everyone in Adam’s life is concerned and nurturing, especially his mother, Maya, and the school’s priest, played by Andy Garcia. The movie manages to be supportive and serious without being dreary or dark – Adam is a fun character, and the other characters are well written and funny enough to keep this from being a dirge.

Young adult movies about mental illness tend to have some content issues – see Perks of Being a Wallflower or Donnie Darko. Apart from the profanity (not too surprising when your brain starts seeing things that aren’t there), there are almost no serious issues with this movie.

That said, this isn’t a film for everybody. The subject matter is difficult and potentially triggering for some viewers. But if you think you can handle it, this is a genuinely thoughtful and sensitive movie that can encourage teenagers to view their atypical peers with understanding and compassion. That might be worth the price of the ticket.

Directed by Thor Freudenthal. Starring AnnaSophia Robb, Walton Goggins, and Andy Garcia. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release December 4, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Words on Bathroom Walls

Words on Bathroom Walls
Rating & Content Info

Why is Words on Bathroom Walls rated PG-13? Words on Bathroom Walls is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic content involving mental illness, some sexual references, strong language and smoking.

Violence:   A person is accidentally severely burned. A character jumps off a balcony and is injured in a suicide attempt. A man is struck across the face. There are several depictions of bullying involving pushing and shoving.
Sexual Content: There are a number of sexual jokes and references, none of which are particularly explicit. An individual is shown reading what is implied to be an adult magazine.
Profanity:   There are ten uses of scatological cursing and one sexual expletive. There are also occasional mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is seen smoking cigars.

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Words on Bathroom Walls Parents' Guide

What do you know about schizophrenia? Do you know anyone who suffers from this illness? What can you do to help people who are dealing with schizophrenia? What kind of resources are available in your area?

Treatment Advocacy Center: Schizophrenia – Fact Sheet

Scientific American: Living with Schizophrenia

Here to Help: Someone I love has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. How can I help?

WebMD: Schizophrenia Resources


Loved this movie? Try these books…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based on a book of the same name by author Stephen Chbosky. Freak the Mighty follows two teenage boys through junior high as they deal with mental and physical illnesses.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Words on Bathroom Walls movie is December 3, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

Other teen movies about mental illness include The Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Donnie Darko. If you’re a personal fan of seeing Charlie Plummer deal with unusual problems, he appears in both Spontaneous and All the Money in the World, in very different situations.