Parents' Guide to

Black or White

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Flawed but thoughtful, touching look at race and family.

Movie PG-13 2015 121 minutes
Black or White Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 15+

Surprisingly, contains offensive language

Contains a blasphemy , which I didn't expect. A down-point. As the film had potential. I would have watched the whole film, but the one profanity put me off, unfortunately.

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 15+

Amazing movie!

This movie deals with many harsh themes: dealing with death, drugs, and absent parents. An amazing movie that deals with the such of racial discrimination, the complexity that is family, and dealing with the grief of losing loved ones.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (7):

Actor-turned-writer/director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger, Reign Over Me) tackles some very tough material here in a very thoughtful way, even if it falls a little off-balance. None of these characters is perfect. Elliot gives a courtroom speech about how he does notice the skin color of a person, but only as his first thought. He argues that if his second thought is about the person under the skin, then that's the thought that counts.

Rowena's house is warm and filled with music, and Elliot walks through it comfortably, and with no racial bias. Rowena herself is shown to be smart and caring, but her all-or-nothing approach with regard to Eloise seems illogical (why not try for joint custody?). The character of Eloise's drug-addicted father is thin, and the movie's/characters' double-standard treatment of alcohol and drugs is barely acknowledged. But the movie gets big points for trying -- and for adding to an important social discussion. And the performances are excellent.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: January 30, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2015
  • Cast: Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell
  • Director: Mike Binder
  • Inclusion Information: Black actors
  • Studio: Relativity Media
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 121 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight
  • Last updated: July 1, 2022

Inclusion information powered by

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate