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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blindspotting is a mature indie dramedy about how two friends in Oakland -- one black and one white -- are affected by race and gentrification. Co-written by stars Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and Rafael Casal, it's a very funny and exuberant yet thoughtful and touching movie that's a must-see for older teens and up. That said, it has some pretty intense violence, particularly involving guns and shooting: Characters are threatened by guns, guns are fired, and a child gets ahold of a gun. There are also scenes of angry arguing and brutal fighting, with punching, kicking, beating, and pummeling, and one man catching on fire. Some blood is shown. Language is very strong, too, with many uses of "f--k," the "N" word," "motherf----r," "s--t," and more. Viewers will also see some drug use (pot), cigarette smoking, and social drinking and hear some sexual innuendo and sex talk.
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What's the story?
In BLINDSPOTTING, Oakland resident Collin (Daveed Diggs) is a convicted felon out on parole, with only three days left until he's totally free. He's determined not to get into trouble, but then his temperamental best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), suddenly decides to buy a gun. And then, on the way home, while waiting at a long stoplight, Collin witnesses a white cop shooting an unarmed black man in the street. Over the next few days, Collin is haunted by the incident but continues to work with Miles at a local moving company, where Collin's ex-girlfriend, Val (Janina Gavankar), is a dispatcher. Collin, Miles, and Miles' wife, Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones), bitterly discuss the gentrification of their city, and later Miles and Collin go to a party hosted by hipster white folks, where Miles gets into a violent fight. And when Miles' son gets ahold of his gun, it sends everything into a tailspin.
Is it any good?
This indie dramedy could have been a hard-knock urban story, but instead it's funny and insightful, with heartfelt characters, and it's astute enough to explore many sides of the issues at hand. Co-written by its two stars, Blindspotting is constantly surprising, using its plot mechanisms -- the shooting, the introduction of the gun, and even a box of curling irons -- to open up further discussion, rather than trudging down familiar paths toward violence or conflict. Destruction -- or self-destruction -- isn't the only/inevitable ending here; things are discussed and reasoned.
Directed by Carlos López Estrada, making his feature debut, Blindspotting is also very funny for a long time, although, as with so many comedies, the laughs tend to dry out as the story threads are wrapped up. But it's so good for so long that that's easily forgiven. Diggs, a Tony winner for Hamilton, has a warm screen presence, even though his character is somewhat passive, given his parole-related storyline. Casal is the surprise, turning his explosive, troublemaking character into a genuinely thoughtful one. And as in Sorry to Bother You, the city of Oakland is used as a fascinating locale, full of personality and inner conflict. Overall, this is a bracing achievement, a movie worth seeking out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Blindspotting's violence. What effect does it have? Is it shocking or thrilling? How does the movie achieve this effect? What does it mean for the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How does the movie address and handle the topic of race? Is race a concrete thing, or does it depend on others' perceptions?
What is gentrification? Does it seem like a good thing or a bad thing? What makes it a complicated issue?
What makes the main characters sympathetic, even though they have flaws/checkered pasts?
- In theaters: July 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2018
- Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Jasmine Cephas Jones
- Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada
- Studios: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, some brutal violence, sexual references and drug use
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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.