Parents' Guide to


By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Lots of language in Lee's fact-based dark comedy.

Movie R 2018 135 minutes
BlacKkKlansman Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 23 parent reviews

age 14+

great movie... tense, and the very end is tough to watch

This is a wonderful movie that is absurd in its premise (black cop infiltrates the KKK and befriends David Duke) but perfect it the storytelling, acting, pace, etc. 10 out of 10 for movie making. Though written several years ago, the topic seems to be especially relevant today with issues of BLM and police brutality at the forefront of current events. This movie deals with HEAVY topics: racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, "good cops", police brutality, activism .... While Spike Lee has made these topics palatable to a general movie going audience, this movie is tense and scary in its cruelty, anger, intolerance and ignorance. Topher Grace (that's 70's show) places a somewhat humorous, milquetoast David Duke.. so there is some light (but always dark) comedy. The storytelling and pace never leave you bored. The characters were cast so brilliantly - especially the white supremicist's wife (that character arc was terrifyingly metaphoric in so many ways). There are a lot of "bad"words - swearing and racist terms. But I never thought they were used gratuitously to shock, they were part of the story or character development. My kids got through it - a lot of discussion/explanations throughout the movie. They really enjoyed it... until the VERY VERY end with scenes from real life (Charlottesville). This real footage abruptly took us out of movie mode and thrust us into the cruel reality of today; it disturbed our kids a lot (but necessary).

This title has:

Great role models
age 15+

Important film for families to watch and discuss together

Although the summary states that "very little violence is actually shown," it's important for families to know that the film ends with graphic real footage of racial violence from the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacist rally. No longer framed within the cinematic distance of the period film, this violence and horror were incredibly disturbing to my younger child. It's an important film to see--perhaps now (June 2020) more than ever. But definitely know that the R rating isn't just for language and themes.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (23):
Kids say (22):

Although it's occasionally weighed down by cinematic choices, this dark comedy is director/co-writer Spike Lee's strongest work in years. While there's some tension around the fact that the jig could be up at any moment, this isn't a thriller. Rather, BlacKkKlansman plays as an absurd comedy with a premise that defies credulity. But the real Stallworth apparently did spy on the Klan by using a telephone persona and apparently did interact with Duke. Thanks to solid performances by an extremely well-chosen cast, the too-bizarre-to-be-true situation feels real. And because the interactions are so crazy, the film's deadpan approach makes them all the funnier.

Lee can't help but lecture at times, with extended public speech sequences and even excerpts of the infamous The Birth of a Nation designed as viewers' lesson for the day. Despite a few of these heavy-handed lapses that break the film's stride, Lee's commentary is perhaps his most effective since Do the Right Thing. The movie includes undisguised links to today's sociopolitical environment, with Duke and others reviving the 1930s-era isolationist/anti-Semitic slogan "America First" (which they did) and promising to "make America great again" via ethnic cleansing. As you'd likely expect from a Lee production, the cinematography and editing are excellent. And Washington and Driver form a solid, heads-down, hardworking team. Driver's Flip has a particularly affecting moment in which he reconnects with the importance of his Jewish heritage. As Duke, Grace is a fool you enjoy laughing at -- until he shows what lies beneath his three-piece-suit veneer in a moment of anger. Given BlacKkKlansman's subject matter and injections of the real-life horrors of racial violence from America's past, it's notable that its touch stays light enough to let its humor shine ... and then a devastating postscript reminds us how real and present this danger remains.

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