Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Becoming Movie Poster Image
Enlightening journey with Michelle Obama on her book tour.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Promotes value of being open, honest, courageous; making decisive, positive choices; refusing to be invisible ("see yourself as more than a statistic"); treating others with dignity. Consistently provides insights into political, racial, and personal challenges of being first lady, along with lessons learned. Happiness cannot be dependent upon other people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Former first lady's positivity, empathy, ability to communicate are at heart of film. Humorously self-deprecating at times, she's courageous, determined, hardworking, a team player, a powerful role model for women in general, African Americans in particular. Demonstrates gratitude and recognition of those in her inner circle who support her every day. Strong parental role models are referenced, applauded.


References to cruel verbal attacks on the Obamas; police shootings of unarmed young African Americans.


Will boost sales of her book Becoming (2018).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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). 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written by1nifer May 29, 2020

Integrity and courage

We all need to be reminded of the tradition of public service, which implies sacrificing one’s time, intelligence, energy, and these days privacy in service to... Continue reading
Parent Written bysheabreaux February 11, 2021

Wonderful, Inspirational glimpse

into the personal history of Michelle Obama and what it took to be the first African American First Lady. Obama is smart, funny and engaging.
Kid, 11 years old May 11, 2020

Great Documentery

Book empowers women, has positive role models. Talks about things that may be confusing for younger kids, like Michelle Obama's Dad having MS. Overall a sw... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 10, 2020

Really Inspiring and Empowering Movie

This is a very inspiring story of Michelle Obama and her life after living in the White House for eight years. It is a great movie to watch with the family, I d... Continue reading

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.

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