Cesar Chavez

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Cesar Chavez Movie Poster Image
Plodding labor leader biopic shows protests, beatings.​
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Perseverance is a key to success, and no one exemplifies this more in the film than Cesar Chavez and his supporters, who fought valiantly and tenaciously for their rights to be recognized.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cesar and his wife are unrelenting in their pursuit of justice, even if it means putting themselves in harm's way. Chavez is a role model and hero to many in the Latino and activist community.


Several scenes show the farm owners attacking striking workers with rifle butts, spraying them with pesticides, and firing guns at the group, often as police stand by idly. Later, the cops get in on the action with some intense brawls, attacking laborers with batons and beating protesters senseless.


Some gentle kisses between a husband and wife.


Occasional swearing, including "s--t," "f--k," "ass" and "Goddamn." A Latino character talks about all the racial slurs people have used to describe him, including "beaner," "greaser" and "brown n-gger."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes show people smoking cigarettes while relaxing at home and drinking beer or wine at parties.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cesar Chavez is based on the life of the famed civil rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez , who started working in the fields at 11 and grew up watching the injustices inflicted on farm laborers. Expect some scenes of intense, realistic violence (e.g. characters are beaten with rifles) as farmers and police attack groups of unarmed protesters. Occasional language is strong and includes several uses of "f--k," and "s--t." Though the movie isn't a winner, the characters of Chavez and his partner Dolores Huerta make for outstanding role models who have inspired folks to fight for social justice using nonviolent means.​

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 10, and 10-year-old Written bysilwuttke November 3, 2019


This movie was very disappointing my 2 10 year olds watched it and they said it includes very violent torture, beatings, murdering. Also includes use of very st... Continue reading
Adult Written byparentonago April 1, 2014

Really Good Movie!

Recommend to anyone who loves history and good role models
Kid, 8 years old June 8, 2015

Very violent, disturbing drama is really good but not for kids.

My rating:R for language throughout, some bloody violence, and drug use.

What's the story?

Cesar Chavez (Michael Pena) started working in the fields of Arizona at 11, and grew up watching his family, friends, and other workers be exploited by wealthy farm owners. Vowing to reform the industry, he helped found the United Farm Workers labor union with Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson), and organized protests, strikes, and a national grape boycott that eventually forced the powerful growers led by a character played by John Malkovich to negotiate, in this biopic directed by Diego Luna.

Is it any good?

No doubt Cesar Chavez, the man, makes the perfect subject for a biopic; his life and achievements deserve to be cemented onscreen, but CESAR CHAVEZ, the film, does a lackluster job of doing so. Pena, as Chavez, does a serviceable job of bringing the civil rights icon to life, but his Cesar lacks charisma and doesn't hold the audience's gaze throughout the film, failing to inspire. It doesn't help that his arc is told in a plodding, fairly linear manner. With so much rich material to work with, surely the filmmakers could've found a more interesting way to tell his story. His heroism is muted; the struggles of the farm workers, too. Why bother to tell such a vital story if one won't do so with vitality?

That said, Cesar Chavez does illuminate a crucial figure, time, and place in our history. Teens and adults who watch the film may find themselves surprised by the intricacies of the movement: the role Filipino migrant workers played; Chavez's personal life and how it fared against the larger backdrop of history in the making. Not enough insight is dispensed, however, to rescue Cesar Chavez from a severe lack of momentum.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the farm-labor movement. What did you know about this issue before watching the movie? What did you learn? What do you think about the conditions of the workers? How did they manage to change the industry?

  • Are you shocked by the violence Chavez and the other protesters endure? How realistic is the depiction of violence? Would the movie have the same impact without the violence?

  • How do Chavez's efforts to lead a social movement affect his family life? What's the ultimate message of the movie?

Movie details

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