The Lifeguard


Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 14
  2. Negative: 8 out of 14

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 29, 2013
    The Lifeguard is one of those deceptive movies that, to its credit, winds up being about more than just an easy-to-describe tagline. In this case, that line would be: “Woman goes back to hometown, sleeps with high school boy.”
  2. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Sep 2, 2013
    It's not the most original of concepts, and writer-director Liz W. Garcia struggles with the tone throughout, but The Lifeguard is often saved by Kristen Bell's sensitive and complex performance.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Aug 4, 2013
    Bell is too inherently sympathetic to turn Leigh into a credibly flawed protagonist, and first-time writer-director Liz W. Garcia seems more interested in indulging the fantasy of the jailbait fling than in seriously interrogating her heroine’s psyche.
  4. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Aug 28, 2013
    Like its lead character, The Lifeguard is stuck in a rut. After establishing Bell’s frustration within the first five minutes, the movie continually reiterates it.
  5. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    Aug 29, 2013
    This directorial debut by Liz W. Garcia, a writer for television, bears some echoes of its creator’s origins, going from deft to trite in its drama and setting up character arcs that feel sappily resolved within its feature length.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Nov 12, 2013
    I really don't understand the bad reviews this movie received. I watched it on a whim on Netflix streaming, so I went into it knowing nothingI really don't understand the bad reviews this movie received. I watched it on a whim on Netflix streaming, so I went into it knowing nothing about it or how it was received. I went in completely raw and I really liked this movie. I have high standards when it comes to movies, and I don't give something a good score if it doesn't truly deserve it. I wonder if there was some Hollywood politics going on that led to critics ganging up on this movie undeservedly (perhaps critics were too scared off by the taboo "sex with a minor" plot line that they were afraid to review the film positively for risk of being labeled "immoral" ).

    Anyway. I also recently watched "Lost in Translation", and "The Lifeguard" deals with similar themes and handles them well. I'm not saying "The Lifeguard" is on the same level as "Lost in Translation", but this movie handled its ideas and themes well. It basically explores the very common existential crisis that people go through in their late 20's when they begin to question their decisions and reflect on their regrets. The late 20's is an age when people are finally coming out of the confusion of youth and are starting to reflect on themselves and solidify who they are. It is a time when many people slow down, analyze themselves, and often come to the realization that they've never really stopped to think about what they truly want. This movie effectively portrays the struggle that people face when dealing with these issues.

    I found it pretty deep and engaging. The characters were quite believable to me, so I'm not sure why the critics said the characters felt forced or fake. I really related to the characters and their struggles. Many of the criticisms that the critics have mentioned with this movie could also be made against "Lost in Translation" (limited character backstory and a story that takes place within a short timespan), yet no one had a problem with those things in "Lost in Translation."

    Again, it makes me think that politics were involved which led to critics unfairly skewering this movie for arbitrary reasons. I was baffled as to why so many critics ripped the movie for something as arbitrary as the soundtrack....seriously? I didn't even notice the soundtrack, it was just background music to me, yet many of the critics point to the "distracting soundtrack" as the thing that kills the movie. Who judges a movie on something as insignificant as its soundtrack? Again, it smells like critics decided to gang up on this movie so they had to come up with something stupid to criticize it for. The soundtrack? Really? Come on,'ve got to try harder than that.
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  2. Oct 20, 2013
    To call The Lifeguard a coming-of-age film doesn't quite do it justice. It is that, but it's not just a teenager who is coming of age. ThereTo call The Lifeguard a coming-of-age film doesn't quite do it justice. It is that, but it's not just a teenager who is coming of age. There is an almost 30 year old who is discovering that her life as a journalist in the big city hasn't quite turne out like she planned. There is a 17 year old who plans to drop out of high school and move far away with his best friend. There is another 30 year old woman who is on the edge of starting a family and is paralyzed with fear that she won't be a good mother. There is a third 30 year old who still lives in his hometown and has yet to come out of the closet. And finally there is a woman in her late 50's who is embarking on a second act in life and desperately needs to be taken serious by those around her.

    The story centers around Leigh, the journalist mentioned above. She lives in New York City and works for the Associated Press. Even though she feels that her stories are serious journalism, her editor keeps putting them in the less serious sections. She is also having an affair with him even though he is engaged to someone else. When she finds it too much to bear, she decides to pack some clothes and her cat and heads off to her hometown thinking her parents will be more than happy to let her move back in. But when she arrives, she finds her old room being turned into an office and her mother doesn't quite give her the warm welcome she expected.

    She also reconnects with 2 old friends from high school: one is a vice-principal at the same school they attended and the other is a closeted gay guy who runs an art gallery. She also gets her old job as a lifeguard at a neighborhood pool. There she meets a group of 3 young teenage boys who regularly skip school, smoke pot, and skateboard. This group of 6 become unlikely friends and Leigh gets too close to Little Jason, resulting in life-altering consequences for all of them.

    When I first rented the film, I thought it was going to be a lot lighter than it was. I didn't expect the script to be so complex and thought-provoking. The performances are excellent. Kristen Bell is very different in the role of Leigh. She really shows her acting ability. Mamie Gummer is superb as the frustrated vice-principal trying to balance right and wrong and being a grown-up. But the break out performance is definitely from David Lambert as Little Jason. At first, he seems like a typical teen with not a lot going on inside his head. But he is just what Leigh needs. His face is so expressive and his range is well beyond an actor his age. I suspect we will see a lot of him in the future.
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  3. Jun 1, 2014
    I am also mystified by this movies poor reception. I found Kristen Bell's desire to go home again to be completely relatable. I also *liked*I am also mystified by this movies poor reception. I found Kristen Bell's desire to go home again to be completely relatable. I also *liked* the soundtrack, but I guess that was just me.

    I watched this movie on a whim after seeing it on Netflix. I'm about the same age as Kristen Bell's character and not particularly thrilled with my career, so the idea of just saying "f*** it" and going home to live with the parents seemed like some good cathartic on-screen wish fulfillment, and it was. I did find the illicit romance to drag on a little, but overall it was a perfectly pleasant way to entertain the idea of dropping out and being a kid again.
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