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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Compassion and empathy are important when considering complex issues like border safety. It's important to recognize the human needs of the people who want to come to the United States, without "othering" them through the use of racist, xenophobic language.
Positive Role Models
Several teens are emotionally moved by tragedies happening at the border, especially since some have family living in Mexico. Many want to join law enforcement to help others stay safe, but they start facing moral questions regarding the thread of racism that infiltrates that occupation. Several teens show empathy and compassion for those who want to come to the U.S.
Everyone in documentary is Latino; they represent a wide range of Latino experiences, come from all walks of life: Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, pro-police, pro-reform, etc. Everyone is treated humanely by the documentarian regardless of views. Effort is made to show where everyone's opinions are coming from.
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Violence & Scariness
Mock police operations meant to re-create drug busts, active shooting events, and more. A teacher tells the students to "light 'em up" regarding armed suspects, which inadvertently touches on issues at heart of Black Lives Matter movement regarding indiscriminate policing and shooting before questioning or detaining. Images and audio of kids separated from their families at U.S.-Mexico border.
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Language includes "s--t," "f--king," "hell," "ass," "bitch," "badass," "f--k," and "damn." Clips showing Donald Trump's xenophobic speech in which he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mock drugs shown. A teenager talks about his dad having been incarcerated for drug possession.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that At the Ready is a documentary about Latino teenagers who are involved in a law enforcement club at their high school. They face the possibility of joining the border patrol to help their families and to earn a stable living, but they're conflicted by the politics that affect Latino people who want to come to the United States. Expect to hear some strong language, including both cursing ("s--t," "f--k," etc.) and xenophobic language used by Donald Trump during an incendiary speech about Mexican immigrants. The film offers families who watch the chance to discuss complex political and human rights issues and provides excellent examples of positive, authentic representation. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This interesting film showcases the kaleidoscope of feelings that Latino-American teenagers in a Texas border town have about the border patrol, policing, and American attitudes toward immigrants. What makes the El Paso teens' story unique is that they're able to get recruited into law enforcement roles through a school program. This puts them -- and the At the Ready film crew -- right in the middle of the challenges facing Latino immigrants during the Trump Administration, including the tragedy of children being separated from their families and locked in cages.
The film shows how the teens want to go into law enforcement in order to help others, but some of them start struggling with the realities of the issues facing members of the U.S. Border Patrol. One teen is said to have met some of the kids who were separated from their families, which left her conflicted about continuing on what she thought would be her life's path. Some of the complexity surrounding generational ideas about policing and politics is covered, particularly regarding one teen's struggle to feel accepted regarding her sexual identity and defense of Black Lives Matter. The "thin blue line" variation of the American flag hangs up in one of the classrooms, and one of the teachers is a staunch Republican, seemingly unwilling to hear points of view that are more associated with Democratic ideals. At the Ready could have gone deeper into exploring the divides between the generations and between parties to give a more rounded look at how deeply political human rights issues have become. But, as it stands, the film brings a new perspective to the discussion about the United States' borders.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.