A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
The main characters are of Latin origin, most of them Mexican. Diversity among Latinos includes immigrants and non-immigrants, bilingual (English-Spanish) and Spanish-only speakers. Other ethnicities include Asians, specifically, Filipino farm workers. Female characters have important roles working alongside Chavez. There are diverse family units, including big families. The movie also explores the multi-generational household and the different challenges each era confronts.
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Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gentle kisses between a married couple.
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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' word."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A few scenes show people smoking cigarettes while relaxing at home and drinking beer or wine at parties.
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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." A Latino character talks about all the racial slurs people have used to describe him, including "beaner," "greaser" and "brown 'N' word." Though the movie is predictable, 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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 on-screen, but Cesar Chavez, the film, does a lackluster job of doing so. Peña succeeds in 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 predictable and linear manner. With so much rich material to work with, surely the filmmakers could've found a more interesting way to tell his story?
That said, Cesar Chavez does illuminate a crucial figure, time, and place in our history. Rarely do you see a Latino story on the big screen in which the majority of the cast in front of and behind the scenes is also Latino. It is the story of how ordinary people, without resources, but with will and creativity, drive changes that end up benefiting many in society. And while Peña's performance may seem weak, those who knew Chavez point out that he was shy and introverted; he didn't have MLK's gift of the gab, but he was able to organize and mobilize people against all odds. 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.
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.