No Safe Spaces

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

No Safe Spaces
the Statue of Liberty’s face at night, with duct tape over her mouth.
Directed byJustin Folk
Written byJohn Sullivan
Produced byMark Joseph[1]
StarringAdam Carolla
Dennis Prager
Edited byJustin Folk
Bob Perkins
Music byChris Jagich
Distributed byAtlas Distribution Company
Release date
  • October 25, 2019 (2019-10-25)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,291,514[2][3]

No Safe Spaces is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Justin Folk that features commentator Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla talking to college students and faculty about university safe spaces. The documentary also covers free speech controversies occasioned when conservatives are invited to speak in university settings.[4][5] The film was released in Arizona theaters on October 25, 2019,[6] and was successful enough to have a national release[7][8] on December 6, 2019.[1][9] It has received mixed reviews from critics.


With production beginning in 2017, the filmmakers were on hand for commentator Ben Shapiro's September 14, 2017, speech at the University of California, Berkeley, a site of civic protests and unrest.[10] The film focuses on such speech disruptions in the United States of America, but also examines similar incidents in Canada with Jordan Peterson.[11][12] In particular, it shows the case of Lindsay Shepherd who was disciplined at Wilfrid Laurier University for using a recording of a debate with Peterson in class.[13][14] It also "denounce[s] censorship in China".[15] "Carolla said, 'We'd be hypocrites if we did a movie about the suppression of free speech but didn't mention China.'"[16]

In a scene filmed at the Laugh Factory, comedians complain that audiences on college campuses are too easily offended now. Among these comedians are Adam Carolla with Karith Foster,[17] and Tim Allen.[18]

The film discusses the story of Bret Weinstein, a biology professor at the Evergreen State College in Washington state, who resigned after he was criticized for attending the university during a "Day of Absence" that was a long-standing tradition. Each year ethnic minorities would voluntarily stay home from campus to highlight their contributions to the college. In 2017, students attempted to compel white staff and students to stay away from the school, which Weinstein refused to do.[19] Compulsion was also an issue discussed in the segments with Jordan Peterson, who gained international attention when he refused to adopt gender-neutral language, calling it an unwelcome form of compelled speech.[20]

According to the Washington Examiner, the filmmakers worked to include "left-leaning" views in their movie.[21] CNN's Van Jones complains that too many young people have not learned how to defend their views.[16] Attorney Alan Dershowitz criticizes many college leaders and "the hard left" for not standing up for free speech.[22] Commentator Dave Rubin argues that liberals should also fear "the mob".[13] The film shows former U.S. President Barack Obama saying "Anybody who comes to speak to you ... you shouldn't silence them."[14]

Also in the film are Sharyl Attkisson, Candace Owens, Ann Coulter, and Cornel West.[23]

The filmmakers have disputed its PG-13 rating.[7][24]


Box office[edit]

As of March 2020, the movie had taken in $1.3 million at the box office.[25] On its opening night, the film earned an estimated $45,000 on one screen in Phoenix, the production team said, adding that the only documentary that earned more from one screen on an opening weekend was Michael Moore's Sicko in 2007. The per-screen average was $3,542.[26] No Safe Spaces, which opened in limited release on October 25, 2019, came close to topping Terminator: Dark Fate in Denver and San Diego theater complexes over the weekend, and ended up finishing a close second to the Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster in those venues after final figures came in.[8]

After its theatrical release, Salem Media Group made the film available as a video on demand. This is the first time Salem distributed a film. Prager criticized Netflix for rejecting the film, but paying $10 million for Knock Down the House, which did not have a theatrical release.[25]

Critical response[edit]

No Safe Spaces has received mixed reviews from professional critics.[9] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 47%, based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10.[27] Metacritic reports a 31 out of 100 score, based on five reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[28]

Several critics panned the film as biased. For The A.V. Club, Vadim Rizov gave the film an F, summing up, "This isn't an argument for free speech, it's just paranoid whining, complete with a roundtable of comics sympathetically agreeing how sad and scary this all is, plus images of the Statue of Liberty with tape over its mouth."[29] John Wenzel of The Denver Post gave the film two stars and noted "Frequently, the film asserts that words have power — why else would you want to make sure colleges are hosting conservative speakers? — but then hedges the assertion by saying people are too readily offended these days. Which is it?"[30] The Los Angeles Times review also panned it as one-sided[31] and "disappointing agitprop".[32]

Several critics reviewed the movie positively. Alan Ng of Film Threat gave the film a 90 and wrote in his review, "When it’s all said and done, this film is offensive only to those who don't want to watch it."[33] Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised the movie's defense of free speech, stating "the most head-turning point made by No Safe Spaces is that today's anti-free-speech radicals, who on many college campuses dominate the discourse, are going to be tomorrow's leaders."[34] Nathanial Bell of LA Weekly gave a positive review, saying: "While somewhat loose and undisciplined in its structure, the film builds a case that academia is the primary battleground in a war to eliminate ideological diversity in the United States.[35]

Other responses[edit]

According to a column in the National Review by John Fund the film was widely praised by conservative commentators.[36][better source needed] John Kass called the film "profoundly important" in a Chicago Tribune column.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Victory: Adam Carolla, Dennis Prager film 'No Safe Spaces' heads to major markets". The Washington Times. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "No Safe Spaces (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  3. ^ "No Safe Spaces (2019)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  4. ^ Halper, Evan (August 23, 2019). "How a Los Angeles-based conservative became one of the internet's biggest sensations". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Adam Carolla to Explore University "Safe Spaces" in Upcoming Documentary". The Hollywood Reporter. November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "No Safe Spaces At Harkins Theatres". Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "'No Safe Spaces' Doc Filmmakers Dispute MPAA's PG-13 Rating". Hollywood Reporter. September 4, 2019. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Flood, Brian (November 4, 2019). "Free speech documentary 'No Safe Spaces' continues surge ahead of nationwide release". Fox News. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Flood, Brian (November 18, 2019). "Moviegoers flock to free speech doc 'No Safe Spaces' despite panning from mainstream critics". Fox News.
  10. ^ "Ben Shapiro's U.C. Berkeley Speech Expected to Draw Protests". The Hollywood Reporter. September 14, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  11. ^ "No Safe Spaces exposes the madness of groupthink". Washington Examiner. November 4, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  12. ^ Thompson, Luke Y. "Review: 'No Safe Spaces' Takes On Political Correctness, Just Like Everyone Else". Forbes. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Paul Kengor (September 27, 2019). "Safe Spaces for Me But Not for Thee | The American Spectator". Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Kass, John. "Column: Is this still a free country? The new movie 'No Safe Spaces' raises frightening doubts". Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  15. ^ Flood, Brian (October 22, 2019). "'No Safe Spaces' takes on censorship in China, politically correct world of academia". Fox News. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Flood, Brian (October 23, 2019). "'No Safe Spaces' star Adam Carolla says censorship 'hurting everyone,' not a partisan issue". Fox News. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  17. ^ Givas, Nick (November 6, 2019). "Comedian Karith Foster on frustrations over college campuses' PC culture: 'Not a partisan issue'". Fox News. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  18. ^ "Tim Allen Joins Docudrama 'No Safe Spaces' To Smash The PC Culture". Is It Funny or Offensive?. February 2, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  19. ^ Svrluga, Susan; Heim, Joe (June 1, 2017). "Threat shuts down college embroiled in racial dispute". Washington Post.
  20. ^ "Jordan Peterson: Compelled Speech is Wrong, Whatever the Purpose". Investor's Business Daily. June 13, 2018.
  21. ^ "Left-leaning commentators join 'No Safe Spaces' documentary cast". Washington Examiner. April 25, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  22. ^ "Alan Dershowitz to Appear in Adam Carolla's 'No Safe Spaces' Film". The Hollywood Reporter. February 12, 2018. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  23. ^ "Sharyl Attkisson to Make Film Debut in Doc About Free Speech". April 25, 2018.
  24. ^ Napoli, Jessica (October 4, 2019). "Dennis Prager on why new film 'No Safe Spaces' is unfairly rated". Fox News. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Salem, the leader in talk-radio, will make its debut in film distribution with a movie from Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager". Newsweek. March 26, 2020.
  26. ^ Kaplan, Talia (October 27, 2019). "'No Safe Spaces' sees massive box office haul on just 1 screen, ahead of broader rollout". Fox News. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  27. ^ "No Safe Spaces". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  28. ^ No Safe Spaces at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
  29. ^ Rizov, Vadim (October 23, 2019). "'Debate Me, You Coward' Takes Movie Form in Adam Carolla's Abysmal No Safe Spaces". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  30. ^ Wenzel, John (November 1, 2019). "Review: "No Safe Spaces" talks itself in circles around free-speech on college campuses". The Denver Post. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  31. ^ "Review: Free speech doc 'No Safe Spaces' clearly sides with one set of voices". Los Angeles Times. November 15, 2019.
  32. ^ Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times (December 5, 2019). "'No Safe Spaces' explores free speech on campus". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  33. ^ Ng, Alan (October 25, 2019). "No Safe Spaces". Film Threat. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  34. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (November 21, 2019). "Film Review: 'No Safe Spaces'". Variety. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  35. ^ Lecaro, Lina (November 13, 2019). "Freedom of Speech on College Campuses Explored in No Safe Spaces". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  36. ^ Fund, John (November 3, 2019). "Column: In No Safe Spaces, an Odd Couple Teams Up to Fight Free-Speech Bans". National Review.
  37. ^ Kass, John (December 5, 2019). "Column: Is this still a free country? The new movie 'No Safe Spaces' raises frightening doubts". Chicago Tribune.

External links[edit]