A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Few positive messages as the movie centers around a world of drugs and violence, which impacts innocent bystanders.
Positive Role Models
Strike and his friends live a compromised existence as drug dealers, caught between their bosses and police officers. Strike is capable of compassion and kindness, but like the other characters lives in a world ruled by violence, money, and drugs, which results in him making some questionable decisions. Strike's brother, Victor, works hard in regular jobs, but confesses to a murder for ambiguous reasons. Some supporting characters criticize Strike and his peers for selling drugs.
The cast is predominantly Black and male, with some ethnic diversity among the supporting cast. The few women characters are restricted to supporting roles. Characters display homophobic attitudes.
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Violence & Scariness
Real-life crime scene photos feature bloody injuries, pools of blood, gunshot wounds, and dead bodies. Drug dealers shoved, pushed, and grabbed by police officers. Character conspires to commit murder. Graphic close-ups of fatal gunshots, including bullet holes and bloody wounds with internal organs visible. Police and drug dealers both carry guns. Character is attacked with a blade, sustains wounds that require dressings. A gun is placed in a character's mouth. Other characters shot in the head and the body, and killed. Character has medical condition that causes them to occasionally cough up blood. Character kicked while on the floor. Punches thrown in other scuffles. Deliberate property damage. Reference to sexual violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A suspected drug dealer is forced to partially undress for the police. Backside exposed. TV footage shows a scantily-clad person. Innuendo and references to sex.
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Language used includes the "N" word, "f--k," "mother----r," "p---y," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," and "c--ksucker." Homophobic terms and innuendo used toward some characters. Racist terms used to characterize Asian and Black characters.
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Products & Purchases
Drug dealers are shown wearing expensive clothes and accessories. A character mocks and intimidates another for earning less money than a drug dealer. One character collects model train sets.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters sell drugs. Drink socially. Character is partially debilitated because of their drug addiction. Scenes of people buying and smoking crack cocaine. References to drugs in the soundtrack and dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Clockers is a gripping crime drama from director Spike Lee with bloody violence, drugs, and strong language including homophobic and racist slurs. The plot surrounds a group of New York drug dealers or "clockers," led by Strike (Mekhi Phifer), whose lives are complicated by the murder of a rival drug dealer. Due to the violent and criminal setting, there are few if any positive messages or role models. The violence is constant, with a mix of real-life and cinematic gunshots and murders shown in police archive footage and in the movie itself. The police officers, led by homicide detective Rocco (Harvey Keitel), frequently joke about the deceased while standing over them. There are some brief glimpses of male and female nudity, but nothing explicit, although sex is alluded to in graphic terms. Language includes use of the "N" word, "f--k," and "p---y." There is also non-inclusive language used to discuss homosexuality and different ethnicities. Owing to the drug-dealer characters' work, there are multiple references to making money and Strike exerts some influence over others by being able to buy them things that they cannot afford. This behavior is criticized at times, though. Characters drink socially, while drugs themselves are shown being prepared for sale, sold, and used. The effects of drug addiction are both depicted and discussed. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It might lack the memorable set pieces and performances of director Spike Lee's better-known work, but this tightly-plotted crime drama has become something of a cult favorite. Adapted for the screen from Richard Price's lengthy novel, Clockers removes much of the book's setup and instead focuses on the events that spiral out of control following a drug dealer's murder. Phifer might not have the star power to truly shine as central character Ronald "Strike" Dunham, but from the lengthy, music video-esque opening set piece he plays Strike with an every man quality to make his long-since compromised sense of morality understandable. Delroy Lindo and Harvey Keitel get the more interesting roles as drug kingpin Ronald and unrelenting police detective Rocco, and neither shy away from making their presence felt.
Clockers is of its time and now feels slightly dated because of it. A more modern take would've perhaps given us more of the lives of the supporting characters endangered by the local drug trade, as was explored in later seasons of The Wire and other TV series. But it remains a well-crafted crime drama and feels real and true enough to still hit close to home.
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.