6 Balloons (Movie)

Title — 6 Balloons
Available on — Netflix
Production Country — United States
Release Date — 2018
A loyal sister struggles to stay afloat while driving her heroin-addicted brother to a detox center and looking after his 2-year-old daughter.

🪶 Story & Synopsis

In the gripping drama “6 Balloons,” directed and written by Marja-Lewis Ryan, viewers are taken on an intense journey through the streets of Los Angeles over the course of one fateful night. The film stars Abbi Jacobson as Katie and Dave Franco as Seth, portraying a sister and brother caught in the throes of addiction.

The story unfolds as Katie discovers that her brother Seth, a heroin addict, has relapsed. Fueled by a desperate need to help him, she embarks on a harrowing mission to find a detox center in a race against time. With Seth’s young daughter in tow, the stakes are raised even higher as Katie navigates the challenges of addiction, family, and sacrifice.

As the night progresses, the siblings’ bond is tested, revealing the raw and emotional complexities of addiction and its far-reaching effects. Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco deliver powerful performances that bring to life the struggle, pain, and resilience of their characters.

Through its concise 74-minute runtime, “6 Balloons” packs a poignant punch, shedding light on the harsh realities of substance abuse and the unwavering love that drives individuals to confront their demons. Marja-Lewis Ryan’s direction keeps the narrative tight and focused, allowing the audience to immerse themselves fully in the turbulent world of Katie and Seth.

With themes of redemption, family dynamics, and the relentless battle against addiction, “6 Balloons” is a compelling exploration of the human spirit’s capacity for hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. The film’s intimate portrayal of a sister’s unwavering determination to save her brother resonates deeply, leaving a lasting impact on viewers long after the credits roll.

🧑 Cast & Crew

Abbi Jacobson, Dave Franco, Jane Kaczmarek, Tim Matheson, Charlotte Carel, Madeline Carel, Maya Erskine, Dawan Owens, Jen Tullock

Movie Casting:

  • Abbi Jacobson as Katie
  • Dave Franco as Seth
  • Charlotte Carel as Ella
  • Madeline Carel as Ella
  • Jane Kaczmarek as Gloria
  • Dawan Owens as Jack
  • Tim Matheson as Gary
  • Jen Tullock
  • Maya Erskine as Cameron

💬 Reviews and feedback

6 Balloons Movie Review: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

Have you ever been on a roller coaster that, halfway through, makes you question if it was a good idea to get on in the first place? That’s pretty much the experience of watching 6 Balloons. This Netflix original is like one of those rides: heart-racing, gut-wrenching, and when it’s over, you’re left with a mix of admiration and relief. Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan and starring Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco, this 71-minute film takes you on a raw journey through the murky waters of substance abuse and addiction.

Let’s dive in!

The Plot:

6 Balloons centers around Katie (Abbi Jacobson), who discovers her brother Seth (Dave Franco) has relapsed into heroin addiction. The film unfolds over one night as Katie tries to get Seth into rehab while also juggling her responsibilities and emotions. Based on real-life events, this story doesn’t shy away from showing the ugly side of addiction—not just for the addict but for everyone around them.

Themes and Tone:

This isn’t your typical Friday night popcorn flick. The movie is heavy, dealing with themes like dependency, enabling behavior, family dynamics, and overwhelming guilt. It paints an unflinchingly bleak picture and does so without sugarcoating the harsh realities. If you’re looking for something light-hearted or feel-good, maybe keep scrolling through Netflix for now.

Acting and Characters:

If you’ve only seen Abbi Jacobson in Broad City, prepare to be amazed by her dramatic chops. She perfectly captures Katie’s internal struggle—the fine line between love and enabling. Her performance is both restrained and powerful.

Dave Franco also steps out of his usual comedic roles to deliver a haunting portrayal of Seth. His depiction of a man at war with his demons will tug at your heartstrings—especially during moments where he oscillates between vulnerability and manipulative behavior.


A shoutout to Marja-Lewis Ryan! As a debut feature film director, she hits it out of the park by maintaining an intense atmosphere throughout the movie’s runtime. Her focus on close-ups effectively conveys the claustrophobia that both characters feel—Katie trapped by her responsibilities and Seth by his addiction.


The cinematography complements Ryan’s direction beautifully. The use of muted colors adds to the somber mood while tight framing keeps you uncomfortably close to the characters’ pain. This isn’t a visually “pretty” film—it’s raw, gritty, but oh-so-effective.

Binge-Watching Tips:

  • Pace Yourself: At just 71 minutes long, it’s easy to think you’ll breeze through it—but don’t be fooled! The emotional weight makes it feel much longer.
  • Tissues At Hand: No joke—you’ll need them.
  • Mood Management: Follow up your viewing with something lighter or uplifting; perhaps rewatch an episode of your favorite comedy show as an emotional palate cleanser.

The Score:

The background score plays second fiddle here (pun intended). It’s subtle yet effective in heightening tension without overwhelming scenes with melodrama—a tricky balance that composer Heather McIntosh nails effortlessly.

Edit & Pace:

Kudos to editor Julia Bloch for keeping things tight! Given its short duration, every minute counts—and none are wasted here. The pace ensures you’re constantly engaged even if what you’re watching is emotionally draining.

“Much like its frazzled protagonist,” critics say “the film has a strong sense of direction but feels too constricted.” I’d argue that’s kind of the point—it mirrors how Katie feels: trapped yet determined.”

If there’s one thing I might nitpick about 6 Balloons, it’s that some moments verge on being overly dramatic—almost teetering into Lifetime movie territory without ever fully plunging in (thank heavens!). But then again, real life can often be stranger—and more dramatic—than fiction.

User Interaction :

  • If you’ve seen 6 Balloons, how did you feel afterward? Did it change your perspective on addiction?
  • If not yet watched—what are some other movies dealing with similar themes that you’ve found impactful?
  • If given a chance to direct such emotionally charged content yourself—how would you handle it differently?

Binge-Watching Tips Recap ::

  • Pace Yourself – Emotional density makes time stretch out!
  • Tissues – Absolutely essential!
  • Mood Management – Follow-up with something light-hearted afterwards!

The Final Verdict ::
In conclusion,

“This was really good”.,
“6 Balloons” is an emotional journey that will tug at your heartstrings..
A tough-going study about fraying family ties between backsliding heroin addict brother & enabling sister.
It’s drama is overwrought & falls flat in execution.

My Rating:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/10)

Pros Cons
Addresses important issue of substance abuse and addiction Some critics find the film too constricted
Strong debut for director Ryan Execution falls flat for some viewers
Based on a real-life example of opioid addiction Drama can be overwrought
Effective portrayal of family struggling with addiction Somewhat short runtime
Heartfelt and moving story Some critics feel it tries too hard to be dramatic


  • 6 Balloons - Wikipedia

    6 Balloons

    6 Balloons
    Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan
    Written by Marja-Lewis Ryan
    Produced by
    • Reid Carolin
    • Ross M. Dinerstein
    • Samantha Housman
    • Peter Kiernan
    • Channing Tatum
    • Abbi Jacobson
    • Dave Franco
    • Charlotte Carel
    • Madeline Carel
    • Dawan Owens
    • Jen Tullock
    • Maya Erskine
    • Tim Matheson
    • Jane Kaczmarek
    Cinematography Polly Morgan
    Edited by Brian Scofield
    Music by Heather McIntosh


  • 6 Balloons (2018) - IMDb


    • asc85
    • Nov 24, 2018
    • How long is 6 Balloons?Powered by Alexa


    • Runtime1 hour 14 minutes
    • Color
    • Aspect ratio
      • 2.00 : 1

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  • 6 Balloons movie review & film summary (2018) | Roger Ebert

    I do wish slightly that “6 Balloons” felt weightier in terms of narrative—it runs only 74 minutes—and, as silly as it may sound, I could have spent more real time in the car with Seth and Katie, just watching these two actors do what they here. They’re so fully-realized that I wanted a bit more to their story, but I also admire Ryan’s no-nonsense approach to a tight narrative. Katie is planning a surprise party in “6 Balloons” and this is one of the most unexpected, moving surprises of the year so far.This review was originally filed from the SXSW Film Festival on March 13, 2018.75 minutesAbbi Jacobsonas KatieDave Francoas SethTim Mathesonas Gary

⚠️ Explanation (Spoiler)

In the movie “6 Balloons,” directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan, the story revolves around the challenging dynamics of loving an addict. The film portrays the struggles faced by Katie, played by Abbi Jacobson, as she tries to help her brother Seth, portrayed by Dave Franco, who is a heroin addict. The narrative unfolds as Katie plans a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend but discovers that her brother has relapsed. Determined to get Seth to a detox clinic, Katie embarks on a journey filled with obstacles, including financial constraints and the harsh reality of addiction.

The movie delves into the emotional turmoil experienced by Katie as she grapples with the impact of Seth’s addiction on her own life. Throughout the film, the audience witnesses the raw and frightening depiction of withdrawal and the toll it takes on both the addict and their loved ones. The presence of Seth’s young daughter, Ella, adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, highlighting how addiction affects families and children who are forced to witness the downward spiral.

One of the standout aspects of “6 Balloons” is the powerful performances delivered by Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco. Franco, known for his comedic roles, delivers a memorable dramatic performance, embodying the physical and emotional struggles of addiction with authenticity. Jacobson’s portrayal of Katie is nuanced and internalized, conveying a range of emotions through subtle gestures and expressions.

Director Marja-Lewis Ryan skillfully navigates the delicate subject matter, capturing the heartbreaking reality of addiction without resorting to manipulation or clichés. The film’s concise runtime of 74 minutes maintains a sense of urgency and intensity, keeping the focus on the central relationship between Katie and Seth.

As the story unfolds, viewers are taken on a poignant and emotional journey that culminates in a powerful and unexpected conclusion. The closing scenes of “6 Balloons” leave a lasting impact, showcasing the profound effects of addiction on individuals and their loved ones.

Overall, “6 Balloons” is a gripping and thought-provoking film that offers a raw and honest portrayal of addiction and its ripple effects. Through compelling performances and a tightly woven narrative, the movie sheds light on the complexities of relationships strained by addiction, ultimately delivering a poignant and moving cinematic experience.

👪 Parents Guide & Age Rating


Age Rating:

6 Balloons movie is rated MA15+ in Australia, 12 in the Netherlands, M18 in Singapore, 15 in the United Kingdom, and TV-MA in the United States.

Parental Guide:

6 Balloons is a 2018 American drama film that delves into the harsh realities of addiction. Here is a detailed parental guide to help you decide if this movie is suitable for your child:

  • Sex & Nudity: There are no explicit sexual scenes in the movie. However, there are references to drug use and its impact on relationships.
  • Violence & Gore: The film contains scenes of drug use, including the process of using heroin in a dirty pharmacy bathroom. There are no graphic violent or gory scenes.
  • Profanity: The movie may contain strong language and profanity throughout, reflecting the emotional intensity of the subject matter.
  • Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking: Wine and beer are seen served at a family party. The film focuses heavily on drug addiction, with scenes depicting heroin use and its consequences.
  • Frightening & Intense Scenes: The theme of drug addiction and its impact on families can be intense and emotional, which may be distressing for some viewers.

Considering the mature themes and depictions of drug addiction, it is recommended that parents preview the movie before deciding if it is appropriate for their children. The film’s realistic portrayal of addiction may spark important conversations about substance abuse and its consequences.

📺 Streaming and where to watch

streaming service extra information
Netflix 6 Balloons is available for streaming on Netflix. It has a maturity rating of TV-MA, a runtime of 1h 15m, and falls under genres Drama Movies and Independent Movies.

❝ Quotes and Cult

  • It is incredibly difficult to love an addict. Not only does their addiction continuously define the dynamic of your relationship, but they are like a drowning man, able to take you down with them as they flail their arms and fight for air.
    Brian Tallerico
  • What the story really feels like it’s about, though, is the endless, disorienting dance between addicts and the people who love them.
    Leah Greenblatt
  • It’s incredibly powerful stuff.
  • Katie is planning a surprise party in “6 Balloons” and this is one of the most unexpected, moving surprises of the year so far.
    Brian Tallerico

🤖6 Balloons Reddit Talks

6 Balloons is a 2018 American drama film directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan and written by Samantha Franco. The film stars Abbi Jacobson, Dave Franco, Jane Kaczmarek, Tim Roth, and Douglas Hodge. The film follows a woman (Jacobson) who learns that her brother (Franco) has relapsed on heroin and drives him across Los Angeles in search of a detox center.

Reddit discussions of 6 Balloons

Redditors on r/movies generally praised the film’s performances, but some found the plot to be far-fetched and the acting to be over-the-top at times. One Redditor said, “Well done movie though. There was some over acting at times and some far-fetched scenes. But, it did a good job of showing how crazy not only addiction is but how it affects the family.”

On r/opiates, Redditors who had personal experience with addiction said that the film was relatable. One Redditor said, “I love the Franco boys, and can obviously relate to the material. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning of the movie (as I am with many movies about addiction), but it was actually really good. It’s a very realistic portrayal of addiction and the struggles that addicts and their families face.”

Overall, Redditors found 6 Balloons to be a well-made film with strong performances, but some found the plot to be unrealistic. The film resonated with Redditors who had personal experience with addiction.

Here are some of the specific topics that Redditors discussed:

  • The realistic portrayal of addiction and its effects on the family
  • The strong performances of the cast
  • The film’s unflinching look at the realities of drug addiction
  • The film’s message of hope and redemption
  • The film’s portrayal of the challenges of finding detox centers

Overall, Redditors found 6 Balloons to be a powerful and moving film that sheds light on the realities of drug addiction.

Top discussions

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main message of the film 6 Balloons?

The main message of “6 Balloons” revolves around the very important issue of substance abuse and addiction. The movie sheds light on the impact of addiction not only on the individual struggling with it but also on the family and loved ones involved.

Is 6 Balloons based on a true story?

Yes, “6 Balloons” is based on an actual real-life example of opioid addiction. The film portrays the struggles of an entire family dealing with a loved one’s addiction and the repercussions that extend beyond just the addict.

Is 6 Balloons worth watching?

While opinions may vary, critics have praised “6 Balloons” as a strong debut for writer-director Marja-Lewis Ryan. The film captures the essence of addiction as a mood piece and character portrait, making it a compelling watch for those interested in powerful dramas.

Why is 6 Balloons rated TV-MA?

Parents need to be aware that “6 Balloons” is a powerful 75-minute tale centered around drug addiction and is intended for mature viewers due to its intense and realistic depiction of a sister’s struggles to help her brother through a painful heroin withdrawal while caring for his young daughter.

Is 6 Balloons a good movie?

“6 Balloons” may not be the best film addressing addiction, but it is highly praised for its portrayal of how addiction impacts families, especially in terms of codependency. The performances by Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco are particularly noteworthy, making it a worthwhile watch for those interested in intense and emotional dramas.”

What is the plot of the movie 6 Balloons?

“6 Balloons” follows a woman driving her heroin-addicted brother to a detox center over the course of one night in Los Angeles. The film explores the challenges and emotional turmoil of dealing with addiction within a family dynamic.

🔀 Recommended Movie and TV Show

Here is a list of movies and TV shows similar to “6 Balloons” based on substance abuse and addiction, family struggles, and emotional journeys:

  1. Beautiful Boy: A heartbreaking true story about a father’s struggle to help his son overcome drug addiction.
  2. The Snake Brothers: Follows the lives of two brothers dealing with addiction and family dynamics.
  3. Banger: Explores the impact of drug addiction on individuals and their loved ones.
  4. T2 Trainspotting: A sequel that delves deeper into the lives of individuals struggling with addiction.
  5. Requiem for a Dream: A harrowing tale of addiction and its devastating consequences.
  6. Trainspotting: Follows a group of friends as they navigate life amidst drug addiction.
  7. Candy: Explores the destructive nature of drug addiction on a relationship.
  8. Ben Is Back: A mother’s journey to help her son battle addiction.
  9. The Panic in Needle Park: A gritty portrayal of life among heroin addicts in New York City.
  10. The Connection: A classic French film depicting the struggles of drug addiction.
  11. Perfect High: Explores the dark side of teenage drug use and its consequences.
  12. Dune: Part Two: A sci-fi drama that delves into complex relationships and struggles.
  13. Ice 3: A Russian drama exploring love, addiction, and personal growth.

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