Family Review: FIVE FEET APART Is Cliched, But Well-Acted4 min read

By Trina Boice

Republished with permission from The Movie Review Mom


She has Cystic Fibrosis. So does he. That’s why they have to stay five feet apart. What happens if they’re three or four feet apart?  Yes, this is another one of those sick-teens-in-love movies we’ve seen many times before and is based on the book by Rachael Lippincott. 


If you’ve seen the trailer, you have pretty much seen the entire movie.  If you haven’t read the book, you obviously won’t miss any differences between it and the film, but you may wonder which is better.  The book spends more time developing the characters so that you actually like them; whereas, the movie kind of portrays the two main characters as snarky, foul-mouthed, and kind of jerky.  Stella is super hostile to Will when they first meet for some reason.  She’s a complete control freak and bosses people around.  If being around each other was so dangerous, they could have easily had an online relationship and not put each other at such a dangerous risk, right?  Well, maybe but that wouldn’t make for a very compelling movie.

You’ll learn some medical facts about Cystic Fibrosis in the film.  In fact, the actors and director worked with Claire’s Place Foundation so that they could ensure they were depicting Cystic Fibrosis accurately. There’s a lot of talk of mucous and you see Stella spit massive chunks out of her mouth. Ick.

Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, and Moises Arias all did a great job as the sick teenagers.  Unfortunately, the movie is so predictable that you won’t shed a tear, unless you let yourself get carried away with the story.  Teenage girls will probably need to bring tissues.  If you do cry, you can quickly run out of the theater to get some tissues in the restroom since there aren’t any end-credit scenes.

The sick teens do something dangerous to their health and one of them rationalizes it by saying, “I’m sorry, but it was fun!” as if that makes it ok.  Having fun in life is great and we should definitely look for joy in everyday moments, but having fun needs to be in balance with what’s truly important.  As a mother, I often hear myself saying, “Have fun!” to my kids as they head out the door.  I finally realized that’s not the message I want them to remember as being the top priority.  Now, I try to say things like “Make the world a better place!” or “Go learn something amazing!” or the classic “mother” advice, “Make good choices!”


  • Some teenage girls are looking at clothes and one of them asks, “Too trampy or not trampy enough?”
  • There is talk of “doing it”, “foreplay”, and “using protection.”  Stella and Will talk about whether or not they like sex and where they want to have it.
  • Lots of texting, so young kids who can’t read won’t know what’s being said.
  • Some profanity, including 2 F-bombs (both times by Haley Lu Richardson).
  • Name calling.
  • Talk of a teenage gay couple.
  • A teenager goes skydiving.
  • The parents are never around their sick kids in the hospital until the end of the film.
  • Talk of a girl who dies while cliff-diving.
  • A teen boy and girl undress in front of each other down to their underwear.
  • Teenagers drink alcohol.


The importance of human touch is the biggest theme.  We need it from the ones we love in order to survive and thrive.  A hug can work miracles, right?  The sick teenagers in this movie definitely need a miracle, yet can’t receive hugs due to their illness.  Valuing life and every moment we’re given is also a strong theme.  In the story, a truly unselfish sacrifice is made.


Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program.  She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews at You can find her books on Amazon, and at

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