A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Girl Like Grace is a gritty drama about a 17-year-old girl who's mourning the death of her best friend in sometimes unhealthy, risky ways. Like Precious or Pariah, this is a wrenching coming-of-age tale about someone who needs help but doesn't know how or where to get it. Viewers will see underage substance use and abuse (drinking, smoking, drugs) and sexual experimentation. A girl loses her virginity, and teens kiss, make out, and have sex (no graphic nudity). A teenage girl is gang-raped by the boy she's dating and his friends, and there are other forms of violence, too, including parent-on-child, friend-on-friend, and one scene in which a teen pulls a gun on her friend's attackers. The language is frequently strong, from both adults and teens ("f--k," "s--t," "motherf--ker," etc.), and there are references to suicide, bullying, and emotional/physical abuse. All of that said, the story offers a lot to discuss with older teens about various subjects..
What's the story?
A GIRL LIKE GRACE follows the story of 17-year-old Grace (Ryan Destiny), whose single mom, Lisa (Garcelle Beauvais), seems to care more about dating than being maternal. Grace, who lives in small-town Mississippi, is still reeling from the suicide of her best friend, Andrea (Paige Hurd), whom audiences meet in flashbacks. Grace gravitates toward Andrea's older sister, Share (Meagan Good). But as kind as Share is to Grace, she also introduces the younger girl to an edgy world of men and drugs. Meanwhile, at school, Grace must deal with a group of mean girls led by Mary (Raven-Symoné) and a former best male friend, Jason (Lil' Romeo), who doesn't understand why Grace is now so distant.
Is it any good?
A couple of decent performances can't save this heavy-handed coming-of-age story; it's miscast and tries too hard to push the envelope while falling short of being truly memorable or relevant. Destiny does a fine job playing Grace, who's still grieving and processing the death of her best friend. But Beauvais overplays her role to an almost campy degree, and Raven-Symoné is far too old to play a high-school mean girl. And Good, while a talented actress, looks old enough to be Destiny's mother, rather a friend's older sister.
With A Girl Like Grace, director Ty Hodges clearly hoped to make a movie as impactful as Thirteen or Precious, but the tone, screenplay, and acting don't work cohesively enough to give the film that kind of heft. Yes, it's "gritty," and there are several disturbing scenes that will make parents cringe, but that's not what makes for a superb coming-of-age story. At the very least, the movie should prompt many conversations about everything from bullying and self-harm to substance use and parental abuse.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is teen sexuality portrayed? Is it healthy? Are there consequences for Grace's risky behavior?
What is the role of violence in the movie? Is it necessary to Grace's story?
How does the movie address bullying? Does it feel realistic?
Do you consider any of the characters role models? Why or why not?
Themes & Topics
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