A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All Eyez on Me is a biopic about rapper/actor Tupac Shakur (played by Demetrius Shipp Jr.). While the music and performances are dynamic, the drama is bland and disappointing. There's some strong violence, including gun use and shooting, knives and stabbing, bloody wounds, beatings, a child accidentally getting shot, and a character is convicted on sexual abuse charges. Topless women are shown, and there are sexual situations and some kissing, as well as many scantily clad groupies and women being objectified. Language is near constant and extremely strong, with countless uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and the "N" word. The main character smokes cigarettes (as well as pot, though less often) and drinks occasionally. A secondary character is a drug addict who checks into rehab. Liquor and drugs are shown in many party sequences.
What's the story?
In ALL EYEZ ON ME, Africfan-American activist Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira) is released from prison just weeks before she gives birth to her eldest son, Tupac. Years later, the family has moved from New York to Baltimore to Oakland, and Afeni becomes a drug user. The well-educated Tupac (now played by Demetrius Shipp Jr.) realizes that he must support the family and lands a job performing with hip-hop group Digital Underground. This quickly leads to his own solo career, but despite many huge hits, he never seems to have any money. He has many brushes with the law, and his legal fees keep climbing. While in prison for a sexual abuse charge, he signs with Death Row records, which run by the notorious Suge Knight (Dominic L. Santana). Suddenly Tupac has freedom, but at a price. A new kind of violence enters into his life, and September 1996 is fast approaching.
Is it any good?
Newcomer Shipp Jr. is well cast as Tupac, but the movie, unlike Tupac's own storytelling, is sluggish and generic; it doesn't adequately capture the artist's unique genius. Director Benny Boom has made music videos and one other feature, the terrible Next Day Air. Working from a screenplay by three writers, he frames the movie with Tupac giving an interview to a journalist while in prison. It's an old device, and it allows the filmmaker to smooth over (or ignore) the more challenging aspects of Shakur's life.
All Eyez on Me -- named for Shakur's 1996 double-LP masterpiece -- proceeds through chunks of time, showing what happened but not really clarifying how or why. Some events are covered so lazily and some characters are so poorly introduced that only die-hard fans who already know his story will be able to fill in the blanks. On the plus side, the music sequences are dynamic and truly come alive thanks to Shipp's dynamic embodiment of the performer and the fact that Shakur's actual recordings are used. But this is an unworthy movie, and viewers would be better off checking out Shakuir's Live at the House of Blues video or his performances in movies like Juice and Gridlock'd.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is sex depicted in the movie? Is it intimate or impersonal? What's the difference? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How does the movie portray women? Are women objectified? What message does that send? Are there any female characters you'd consider role models?
What did you learn about Tupac from this movie? How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers decide to change things in stories based on facts?
- In theaters: June 16, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 5, 2017
- Cast: Kat Graham, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira
- Director: Benny Boom
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and drug use throughout, violence, some nudity and sexuality
- Last updated: November 3, 2020
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