A Kid from Coney Island

Movie review by
Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media
A Kid from Coney Island Movie Poster Image
Inspiring sports docu shows value of perseverance.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 95 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages of hope, resilience, perseverance, hard work, overcoming obstacles, and lasting effects of positive male mentorship. Also highlights character development after grief and making choices to change the trajectory of a downward spiral.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A young man bravely overcomes trials, pressure, grief. By leaving it all behind to pursue something new, he finds inner peace, meets his destiny. A father is a positive force in his sons' lives. An inner city community rallies behind its young athletes. A high school basketball coach teaches one of his most promising athletes to never forget where he comes from. Older sisters nurture, encourage their younger brother. A famous professional basketball player gives back to his community, doesn't hide his imperfections, carves out a new path for himself.

Violence
Sex
Language

Some use of words including "s--t," "f--k," "motherf----r," and the "N" word.

Consumerism

Athletes are spoken of as if they are property or commodities. Lots of talk about basketball contracts and the amount of money that players get paid.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Kid from Coney Island is an inspiring documentary about legendary professional basketball player Stephon Marbury. It details his rise from inner city Brooklyn to the NBA, as well as the circumstances that took him to China and the positive breakthrough and redemption he found there. Iffy content mostly takes the form of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and more) -- in the end, it's a candid depiction of what life is like for a young man/athlete who has amazing potential but feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Both the pure, honest love of the game and the business of basketball are addressed, as are the psychological effects of being treated as a commodity. There are strong themes of hard work, perseverance, courage, positive male mentorship, and the unifying power of basketball culture.

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What's the story?

A KID FROM CONEY ISLAND is a documentary about former NBA star Stephon Marbury. Directed by Coodie Simmons (The First to Do It) and Chike Ozah (Muhammad Ali: The People's Champ), the film introduces viewers to a high-profile figure in basketball who forges an unconventional path. It shows how Marbury breaks free of the limitations projected on him by corporate ideologies that don't necessarily embrace the notion of Black male athletes in high places being their authentic selves.

Is it any good?

Not only does this film highlight the rise, fall, and resurrection of a notable basketball figure, but it candidly captures the delicate moments of Marbury's wide-ranging influence. His life and story have had an impact on his family, his community, basketball culture, China, and even the next generation. A Kid from Coney Island offers positive, powerful messages about never forgetting where you come from, giving back to your community, embracing the unknown, and the strength that can come from a solid support system. It's likely to resonate especially with young men/teenagers, athletes, and inner city kids in need of inspiration. While it's all too typical to see the stories in the media about inner city kids who have no father and/or family support, Marbury's story provides a positive counter-stereotype. Here we see a positive father-son dynamic; a nurturing, supportive family; and the positive and negative effects of community support.

Like Spike Lee's He Got Game (which is loosely based on Marbury's story), A Kid from Coney Island highlights the positive effects that basketball can have on disenfranchised communities and young men of color. With raw transparency, this documentary depicts the beauty of a setback or meltdown. It shows how making the brave choice to start again led Marbury to a place of happiness and peace, in a place and in a way that he never imagined possible. And it shows that, after a downfall, if you get back up and try again, you just may find yourself on the path toward the greatest moments of your life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about basketball culture and Marbury's experience in China. Do you consider him a role model? In what ways does he show courage, perseverance, resilience, and determination?

  • Both the genuine love of basketball and the business of the game are highlighted in A Kid from Coney Island. What are some of the benefits of both? What are some of the negative aspects of the business side of things? How does basketball change Marbury's life? In what ways does it impact the community he's from?

  • Marbury's NBA journey wasn't all bright lights and glory. In what ways does his journey showcase the power of overcoming obstacles? How do his experiences in China contribute to his overall personal development?

  • How does A Kid from Coney Island showcase the difference between basketball within institutions and basketball on the street? In what ways does hip-hop influence basketball culture, and vice versa?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love basketball

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