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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Becoming follows former first lady Michelle Obama as she begins a book tour upon the release of her bestselling 2018 memoir. A personal film more than a political one, this documentary offers an intimate look at Obama's past, present, and prospective future from her unique, inspiring point of view. Obama seems keen on sharing her story as a means of uplifting women and girls, inviting everyone to live their own lives to the fullest, and rejecting both invisibility and unnecessary compromise. And, far from ignoring or passing lightly over the racial politics that might have stopped her in her tracks, Obama talks about the issues with a keen understanding of how her parents' strength and determination lit the way for her. Some mature themes are referenced (i.e., cruel verbal attacks on the Obamas, police shootings of unarmed young African Americans).
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What's the story?
Michelle Obama -- wife, mom, daughter, political activist, and former first lady -- has everyone's attention in BECOMING. Using the book tour Obama launched when her 2018 memoir was published as a framing device, director Nadia Hallgren takes every opportunity to give her audience an in-depth portrait of a woman cherished by most and considered an outstanding role model for women everywhere. In addition to the behind-the-scenes book tour preparations, the on-camera interviews and Q&A sessions, and personal moments shared between camera and subject, the movie includes newsreel footage, interviews with some of Obama's closest friends and team members, and photographs and family commentary. Emphasis is given to Obama's African American identity and what that means to her community. Barack Obama appears in the film, but always at her side, portrayed as an equal partner in their relationship.
Is it any good?
According to this entertaining, inspirational documentary, Michelle Obama is as wise, funny, compassionate, and honest as she appeared during her eight years as committed partner to the president. Nadia Hallgren's documentary emphasizes Obama's fearlessness, her clear-eyed take on contemporary issues, and her awareness of what her success means for others. Viewers who may expect political jibes or negative assessments of the opposition will be disappointed. "When they go low, we go high" is a phrase she's famous for. She strongly follows that advice in Becoming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the intentions of documentaries: to inform, entertain, persuade, or inspire. Which category or categories best describe Becoming? Explain your answer.
What valuable character strengths (e.g., compassion, courage, integrity) would you attribute to Michelle Obama? Pick one of those traits and show why it was important. In what ways, if any, is Michelle Obama a role model?
Michelle Obama advises: "See yourself as more than a statistic. What do you care about? What brings you joy? Then OWN that." In what ways can you relate to her advice? Give an example of how that concept might work for you right now.
- On DVD or streaming: May 6, 2020
- Cast: Michelle Obama, Phoebe Robinson, Barack Obama
- Director: Nadia Hallgren
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements and brief language
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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