Wide Awake (1998)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Wide Awake Videos

Wide Awake Photos

Movie Info

Philadelphia-based M. Night Shyamalan directed this coming-of-age story about fifth-grader Joshua Beal (Joseph Cross), who is closer to his Grandpa Beal (Robert Loggia) than his own parents (Dana Delany, Denis Leary). Flashbacks trace the tight relationship of grandson and grandfather. When Grandpa Beal dies, Joshua is devastated, and he begins asking questions about life and death of his parents and teachers, including Sister Terry (Rose O'Donnell). Filmed in Philadelphia, where writer-director Shyamalan grew up.
PG (For language and thematic elements)
Comedy , Drama , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


Joseph Cross
as Joshua Beal
Timothy Reifsnyder
as Dave O'Hara
Dana Delany
as Mrs. Beal
Denis Leary
as Mr. Beal
Robert Loggia
as Grandpa Beal
Rosie O'Donnell
as Sister Terry
Camryn Manheim
as Sister Sophia
Dan Lauria
as Father Peters
Vicki Giunta
as Sister Beatrice
Julia Stiles
as Neena Beal
Stefan Niemczyk
as Frank Benton
Michael Pacienza
as Freddie Waltman
Michael Shulman
as Robert Brickman
Jahmal Curtis
as Student
Gil Robbins
as Cardinal Geary
Marc H. Glick
as Father Sebastian
Robert K. O'Neill
as Young Priest
Deborah Stern
as Mrs. Waltman
Joey Perillo
as Mr. Waltman
Jerry Walsh
as Football Coach
Liam Mitchell
as Gym Teacher
Arleen Goman
as Mrs. Pitman
Mets Suber
as Race Starter
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wide Awake

Critic Reviews for Wide Awake

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8)

A wonderful family film that deals sensitively, and even with humor, with a fairly unusual situation for the screen: a 9-year-old's struggles with his faith in God.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Children, too, will be bored to tears navigating through some of the talky spiritual gunk.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The fact is, just too many of the characters and plot points are right out of the stock room: the obligatory fat kid; the obligatory bully; the obligatory kid whose parents can't really afford Catholic school tuition ...

December 31, 1999
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

I wonder who the movie was made for.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Beneath its suffocating, smug sentimentality, you have to look hard to uncover a single moment of truth and genuine feeling.

December 31, 1999
New York Times
Top Critic

I was aware of the problems, but that didn't diminish the warm, fuzzy glow I was experiencing.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wide Awake


Wide Awake is great for anyone who is going through a crisis of faith or is unsure of what they believe. The primary moral of the story is simple: if you seek out a connection with your Higher Power, you will find it. I watch this movie with my children because it is great for generating discussion about many topics on which kids need direction: God, church, life after death, spirituality, bullying, peer/school issues, social status, terminal illness, etc. This is a great effort by M. Night Shyamalan, and it is an excellent family film, although it is too slow for young children. I recommend that it be watched with children when they are 7-12 years old. Give it a try if you have kids, or if you are questioning your faith.

Max Ward
Max Ward

Adorable, down-to-earth, and spiritually in-depth. There's more to this film than what you may have heard.

Jackson Walsh
Jackson Walsh

Super Reviewer


Shyamalan's 1st commercial film is certainly one worth watching. This film focuses on a 5th-grader's journey to find god following his grandfather's passing, and his year-long adventures leading up to his final revelation. I'm not a believer in god, but this film is very heart-warming. Joseph Cross is an amazing actor at such a young age. Leary, Loggia, Stiles, Delaney and Reifsnyder provide great supporting roles which do not subtract from the film's charm. O'Donnell fits well in this film. Unlike the real world, Shyamalan's film is non-abusive in its faithful message of enlightenment. The plot is easy to understand, and does not steer the audience with dogmatic tension or fear.

Kevin M
Kevin M

Super Reviewer

Wide Awake Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Wide Awake on our Movie forum!

News & Features