Parents' Guide to

Brian Banks

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Faith-tinged overturned-rape drama has problematic messages.

Movie PG-13 2019 99 minutes
Brian Banks Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 12+

Powerful & inspiring

I've never written a review on a site like this, but I had to for this one. This is one of the best stories/movies I've watched. I don't feel Brian Banks saw any 'white' saviour ... he saw the colour of a man's heart. On the other note about this storyline possibly putting girls at risk of not being believed when calling rape, how can we call one person to account and not another, based just on their gender. I have been in the former position myself, and still say that each injustice deserves it's voice. This is an unbelievably beautiful and powerful movie, with many messages that need to be heard. Forgiveness, perseverance, kindness.
age 13+

The best movie we've seen this year!

Great movie. Shows the perseverance of a young black male while suffering the effects of racial disparities in America. It's a great message for teenagers because it shows how simple mistakes that are made during the teenage years can impact the rest of your life. We watched it as a family.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7):
Kids say (1):

As the #MeToo movement makes progress in allowing sexual assault victims' voices to be heard and believed, this film feels like a male ego boost in the form of a "sports, god, victory" trifecta. It perpetuates rape myths, generates the largely unwarranted fear of false accusations, and may contribute to reviving a culture of silencing women and discouraging reporting sexual violence -- all wrapped up in a rah-rah package. Additionally, it bangs the drum of the white savior story to the point that Banks tearfully pleads that white California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) is the only person who can save him. (Banks is the project's most high-profile case to date and has gone on to become a celebrity: After his exoneration, he played for the Atlanta Falcons, worked for the NFL, and became a TV show host.)

Both the real-life Banks and Brooks are executive producers of the movie. That's important in the realm of critical thinking, because there's no doubt that Brian Banks has an agenda -- but critical thinkers need to decide for themselves what it is. This isn't the first film about the Innocence Project, and the group is admirably committed to raising awareness of wrongful convictions and criminal justice reform. But Brian Banks is the first Innocence Project-related movie with a faith-based element (Banks looks up at the light and is seen praying at key moments). And then Banks' mother, Leomia (Sherri Shepherd), delivers a speech that bears striking similarity to talking points from Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. In the capable hands of director Tom Shadyac, the film succeeds in raising awareness of why an innocent person would take a plea deal rather than gamble on jail time, how less privileged communities suffer the most, and the power of persistence, positivity, and resilience. And yet, when Kinnear-as-Brooks coaxes a recantation out of Banks' accuser by putting words in her mouth, it feels like the scales of injustice don't just tip in favor of Banks but leave a vulnerable population of sexual assault victims hanging in the air yet again.

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