A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Movie Poster Image
Sexist '90s comedy has sex, language, violence.
  • R
  • 1996
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

"Players" are cool andt taking advantage of women earns men lots of sexual partners.

Positive Role Models

Darnell is crass, crude, self absorbed, smarmy, dishonest, and without many redeeming qualities. After a jilted lover nearly kills him, he claims he will respect women more, but no evidence of that change is shown. Lots of stereotypes. A scorned woman in violent. 


A woman says she killed her abusive husband. She ties up a lover who rejected her and threatens him with a gun, tosses him into a full bathtub, and tries to toss a plugged-in radio in to electrocute him. Three people fall through a picture window into a swimming pool below. A woman repeatedly hits herself to cause bruises she will blame on an innocent man. A woman drives her car into a man to knock him off his feet. Someone sabotages a night club, with fire and water damage resulting.


A man speaks to nearly every woman in terms dripping with sexual innuendo, licking his lips as he speaks. He boasts to his male friends about sexual conquests, warning never to tell women three words: "I love you." Dancers in skimpy outfits dance provocatively in a club. A man and woman make love and breasts are briefly seen. References to oral sex.


"F--k," "s--t," "d--k," "ass," the "N" word, "hell," "damn," bitch," "whore," "p---y," "hooker," "piss," "balls, "nuts," and "testicles."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Thin Line Between Love and Hate is a 1996 Martin Lawrence production, written, directed, and starring the comedian as a crass and self centered club manager who juggles women, loving 'em and leaving 'em at his whim. Although breasts are shown in one sex scene, for the most part the action concentrates on how a certain kind of man brags about getting women to have sex with him. References to oral sex. Older teens may understand the immaturity of the man Lawrence portrays, but young women particularly may find his actions and outlook offensive. Note that in the face of violent retribution by a scorned woman, the central character eventually claims he's learned to treat women better, but it takes a kidnapping and shooting to get him there, and the movie ends before he can demonstrate how he intends to improve his behavior. Although the last-minute message preaches the importance of treating women well, the bulk of the movie conveys the opposite, that "players" are cool and that taking advantage of women earns men lots of sexual partners, a message few would want to promote. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "ass," the "N" word, "hell," "damn," bitch," "whore," "p---y," "hooker," "piss," "balls, "nuts," and "testicles." Adults drink alcohol.

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What's the story?

In A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE, Darnell (Martin Lawrence) is a player, a smooth-talking jerk who kisses the woman behind the dry-cleaning counter and has a running relationship with a woman with a small child. He ogles women and licks his lips salaciously when he talks to them, giving a sleazily sexual undertone to all his approaches. With his men friends the sex talk is overt, including references to oral sex. He bets one friend he will "hit" a woman resistant to his charm, and the minute he accomplishes that goal, he calls the friend to boast. A seemingly accomplished, smart businesswoman named Brandi (Lyn Whitefield) dismisses his obvious and crude sexual overtures repeatedly, then suddenly for no explained reason changes her mind and becomes obsessed with dating him. Once they have sex, she stalks him and Mia (Regina King), another woman he is seeing. In her quest to bring Darnell down, Brandi beats herself up, goes to the hospital, and claims Darnell caused her injuries. The police arrest him for assault but she drops the charges. She threatens Mia, prompting Darnell to come after her at her home, where she hits him with a vase and ties him up, then points a gun at him, shoots him, and tries to electrocute him. Will Darnell learn to change his ways?

Is it any good?

Most of A Thin Line Between Love and Hate feels like a stereotypical male fantasy about what women are willing to fall for in men's singular quest to have sex and move on. Lawrence's unfunny comedy script, written with others, dwells on all the ways men play women, proudly as part of a strategy to have sex with as many women as possible, by whatever devious means available. It doesn't help that Lawrence shamelessly mugs his way through a tedious and repetitive performance, actually licking his lips as he woos new conquests. Although Darnell claims to see the error of his ways at the film's end, Lawrence didn't choose to show us a single second of the "new" Darnell and how he would act differently from the old one.

For that reason, this movie is basically a misogynist's manual on how to be a smarmy, two-timing jerk. The fact that a woman who claims she was physically abused by her husband turns out to be a psycho also deliberately undermines a real problem many completely innocent abused women suffer in domestic situations. It doesn't feel like a politically correct knee jerk response to observe abused women have enough problems without a flippant comedian like Lawrence dismissing the true danger such women face.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the stereotypes of men and women portrayed in this movie. What does Darnell want with women? According to the movie, what do women want of Darnell? Are these accurate portrayals?

  • Why does Darnell advise men never to tell women, "I love you"?

  • Darnell claims he has learned to treat women better after an angry one tried to kill him. Do you believe he'll suddenly change his ways? Why or why not?

Movie details

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