A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Living in a poor neighborhood, orphaned 17-year-old looks after his little brother, bonds (and briefly fights) with his friends through roller skating, pursues his ambition to draw comics; the primary villain (a drug dealer) intimidates the community and eventually shoots one of his workers.
Violence & Scariness
Menacing gangster appears throughout; brief discussion of parents killed in car crash; brief violence erupts near the end: a boy is beaten by thugs who steal his money and drugs he's supposed to sell; a dealer shoots a boy for vengeance (shooting offscreen, but the result -- his family worrying in the hospital -- makes clear he's injured).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kids make out in background shots at school; a romantic, nonexplicit sex scene (not explicit, facial close-ups, tenderness); frequent images of girls' bottoms, tight clothing, bikinis, and cleavage; sexual slang.
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One f-word, over ten s-words, one b-word, frequent use of "ass" and "damn," slang for sexual activity and genitalia ("titty,"booty," "cuddy"), at least two uses of the n-word; some hip-hop songs on soundtrack also include brief language.
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Products & Purchases
Golden Crisp cereal.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
High schoolers drink at parties; villain smokes cigars; brief cigarette smoking in background; a couple of characters sell drugs (and one adult considers this might be a good income for the household, before his nephew argues against it);
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie includes frequent allusions to sexuality and young people testing limits of authority. A 14-year-old character skips school and sells drugs: subsequently, he's suspended from school, chastised by his brother and uncle, beated by a group of older guys, and shot by his drug dealer employer (shooting takes place off screen and boy does not die). Girls wear revealing clothes, their bottoms featured in several "booty" shots. We hear that two boys lost their parents in a car accident. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Engaging, bright, and energetic, ATL follows a conventional coming-of-age plot, while also complicating the usual tale of kids coming up in the hood. Rashad's voiceover provides a central-ish point of view, though the film cuts all over the place, including life lessons for his friends and family as well.
While the movie shows a range of ambitions and self-performances, by kids and adults, it doesn't judge them, but considerers how they come to see options. Certainly, Rashad's art gets the most play, but all of them create their own identities through the work they do and the relationships they forge. Sometimes too earnest, mostly complicated, and always generous, ATL never loses sight of this truth, that the kids' experiences and decisions have contexts.
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Our Editors Recommend
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