Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Zak doesn’t need much from life: All he wants to do is meet his all-time favorite wrestler, The Saltwater Redneck, and become a wrestler himself. There’s only one problem: Zak has down syndrome and is being forced to live in a retirement home. And he’s just 22 years old.

But he’s determined to make his dreams come true. So one night, Zak breaks out of his room and steals away to find his hero. Except Zak has no resources, no friends and no way of getting to his destination. That is, until he sneaks aboard a shabby boat and meets Tyler.

A dejected, wanted vagabond, Tyler plans to cross state lines into Florida to work at an estuary and escape cutthroat fishermen out for his blood. Zak is the last distraction that Tyler needs, but Tyler just can’t leave the guy behind.

So together, this unlikely duo trek across the outer banks of North Carolina where they meet some unlikely friends and, eventually become the family they’ve always needed.

Positive Elements

The movie explores themes that focus on family, love and self-discovery.

Zak is a kind young man who wants friends that he can call family: His own abandoned him years before. In his search for human connection, he meets Tyler, a young man desperately seeking love and friendship himself. The two form a deep bond as Tyler defends Zak and teaches him how to believe in himself, and as Zak shows Tyler the unconditional love that the runaway craves. Tyler and Zak encourage one another, show kindness, offer love and comfort, and learn how to look past physical and emotional barriers.

Eleanor, Zak’s compassionate care provider, genuinely cares about Zak’s well-being. And when he escapes the retirement home, she goes after him. Throughout the film, she learns how to release control and discovers that Zak is capable of handling his own life. Similarly, Eleanor shows interest in Tyler’s life and well-being.

Spiritual Content

An elderly, blind stranger asks Tyler and Zak if they’re “God-fearing.” Eventually he talks to them about the difference between wolves and sheep, and he baptizes them in “the warm waters of forgiveness,” where “the wolves of your past be laid to rest.” This same man freely talks to anyone “about Jesus,” including Eleanor.

Tyler, for a great portion of the film, is unable to forgive himself. He blames himself for his brother’s death but learns about forgiveness through Zak and others. In the same way, Zak learns how to forgive himself and free himself from the confines of self-condemnation.

Tyler is told that his brother is looking down on him from heaven. A wrestler “believes in vampires.”

Sexual Content

Tyler flirts with Zak’s care provider, Eleanor, and eventually kisses her. An elderly man compliments Eleanor’s beauty. Eleanor wears a cleavage-baring top and swims in a black over-sized t-shirt and underwear.

Zak strips down to his underwear to fit through a tight space. He stays in his underwear throughout multiple scenes until he’s given clothes. Tyler occasionally goes shirtless and we see his bare rear from afar as he urinates outside.

Violent Content

Two fishermen attack Tyler multiple times. First, they punch, kick and threaten to bash his head in. When they find him again, they threaten him at gun point and, eventually, they nearly kill him by hitting him in the head with a crowbar (we see Tyler’s head bandaged and his face swollen).

Zak wants to be a wrestler, so he watches videos on how to wrestle and beat people up. When he’s finally able to wrestle in real life, he watches from the sidelines as men hit one another with chairs, their faces covered in blood. Zak himself is hit a few times and eventually throws his opponent out of the ring.

In a flashback, Tyler falls asleep drunk at the wheel with his brother next to him. (It’s insinuated that his brother is killed when the truck crashes.) A man is threatened with a knife. Tyler punches a middle-school boy in Zak’s defense. Tyler teaches Zak to shoot a rifle and Zak flies back from the recoil. We learn that a woman is widowed at a young age.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misused seven times, occasionally paired with “d--n” and “d--mit,” and Jesus’ name is abused twice.

The f-word is heard twice and cut off three times. The s-word is used nearly 35 times. Other profanities include multiple utterances of “p-ssy,” “p-ssed,” “a--” “d--n,” “h---” and “b--ch.”

Zak is degradingly called “retarded” numerous times. A man performs a crude hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Tyler and Zak drink a bottle of hard liquor on the beach and pass out. In a flashback, Tyler and his brother take shots and drive home drunk. A superior unnecessarily suggests that Zak be placed in a home for drug addicts and prostitutes. Men and women consume beer and hard liquor.

Other Negative Elements

We learn that Zak was verbally abused throughout his life, and as a result he believes that because of his down-syndrome it’s his own fault that his family abandoned him.

Zak vomits on himself and Tyler. Tyler sets fire to a man’s expensive equipment, costing the man thousands of dollars.


It’s been a while since I’ve seen Shia LaBeouf in a film and I found his performance, along with that of Zack Gottsagen and Dakota Johnson, to be outstanding.

This film says so much without over-using dialogue. Forgiveness, hope and love permeate scene after scene, and I was drawn into the real emotion and vulnerability of each character.

There is language and some violence here that families need to be aware of. But neither of those elements erased the tangible love and comradery between Tyler and Zak. Despite its content issues, the movie’s themes of redemption and friendship linger.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





Shia LaBeouf as Tyler; Dakota Johnson as Eleanor; Zack Gottsagen as Zak; John Hawkes as Duncan; Thomas Haden Church as Clint/The Salt Water Redneck/Bruce Dern as Carl; Jon Bernthal as Mark; Yelawolf as Ratboy; Jake Roberts as Sam


Tyler Nilson ( )Michael Schwartz ( )


Roadside Attractions



Record Label



In Theaters

August 9, 2019

On Video

November 12, 2019

Year Published



Kristin Smith

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!