Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Amateur Movie Poster Image
Provocative sports movie on amateur athletics; cursing.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Movie explores themes such as the oversized influence of money and endorsements in sports, whether or not student athletes should be paid, especially when talented "star" athletes help bring in millions of dollars to their school and school's athletic programs, and the long-term consequences of concussions in sports. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Terron, an immensely talented basketball player at 14, keeps his integrity in the face of questionable ethics from his father as well as his coach, the hazing of jealous teammates, and the pressure to win on the court. When he makes mistakes, he owns up to them, and tries to find ways to make it right. 


Some bullying and hazing as Terron joins a college prep team while still an 8th grader, surrounded by much older teammates. 


Profanity frequently used: "f--k," the "N" word, "s--t," "goddamn," "sucks," "t-tties," "douche bag." Middle finger gesture, masturbation hand gesture. 


Talk of endorsement deals. A recruiter for a college prep school gives Terron a new smartphone. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Basketball coach shown drinking a beer at his house. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Amateur is a 2018 drama in which a 14-year-old basketball star joins an elite college prep school and is thrust into the ethical concerns swirling around amateur athletics. There's frequent profanity, including the "N" word and "f--k." Some bullying and hazing occurs, as the lead character, still in 8th grade, has joined a team with older players. The movie uses the story to explore relevant themes in contemporary sports, such as whether or not student athletes should be paid, especially when their family is struggling to make ends meet while the school and athletic program make millions of dollars off of their talents. The father of the lead character also struggles with his mental and emotional well-being due to the concussions he received as an athlete in his younger years. Overall, the movie is adept at combining enough sports action with this message so it doesn't come off as preachy, and should inspire discussion among families with kids who play sports. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMrBobby May 13, 2018


has a few swear words but nothing to bad
Teen, 13 years old Written bymurdermystery March 28, 2020

Slow - Not very Engaging

AMATEUR is a slow-going sport film that does contain some positive role models. Parents should be cautious about the foul language.
Teen, 13 years old Written byJB04 June 5, 2018
This is an inspiring movie for kids. It shows how being a student athlete can be hard ecspecially for poor families. It tackles real life situations. And overal... Continue reading

What's the story?

Terron (Michael Rainey Jr.) is an AMATEUR basketball phenom. While still in 8th grade, he's receiving offers to join elite college prep schools where many basketball stars got their start before turning pro. He meets Coach Gaines (Josh Charles), who convinces Terron and his family to join his program at Liberty Prep. Besides learning how to step up his game in his new and more competitive environment, Terron learns that his education doesn't seem to be a priority to anyone at his new school, and with his rising stardom comes questionable ethical dealings with his recruiter, who gives him a free smartphone. He's also told that "the brand" is more important than any team, because brands are looking for long-term investments and "business relationships" with players, even players as young as Terron. As the pressures increase, they only magnify when Terron's father joins the team as an assistant coach. When Terron overhears and then records Coach Gaines revealing the extent of the program's questionable practices to his father, it seems that Terron's athletic ambitions have collapsed, until he comes up with a way to both redeem Coach Gaines and take his life in basketball in a new direction. 

Is it any good?

This movie is like a fictionalized version of the acclaimed 30 for 30 series on ESPN. Through the story of a young basketball prodigy, the movie explores many of the debates surrounding amateur collegiate sports. Should amateur athletes be paid, especially those athletes whose families are struggling to make ends meet as the college and athletic program they represent rake in millions on their talent? How young is too young to "brand" athletes with endorsement deals? Should young athletes representing their school be given easier course loads since they need more time to practice if the school wants to win? 

Amateur addresses these concerns while also including the action and inherent drama, excitement, and fun that cause people to follow sports of all kinds in the first place. While there are moments in the story that feel a little too forced and unnatural, the acting, action, and humor keep the audience fully engaged. And there's a believability to Terron as he tries to balance all these demands -- some of a more personal nature, such as a learning disability, as well as the public challenges of being a prodigious basketball talent -- that reveals a deep understanding of character growth and development. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sports movies. How does Amateur compare to other sports movies? 

  • Do you think student athletes should be paid? Why or why not?

  • Did the movie lead you to rethink your opinions on the topics it addressed? Why or why not? 

Movie details

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