Domino: Battle of the Bones
Crude, lowbrow dominoes comedy still has a little heart.
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Domino: Battle of the Bones
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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 Domino: Battle of the Bones is a comedy about a dominoes competition and various players competing for the top prize. It's extremely crude and quite lowbrow, and though it has a good heart, it ultimately can't overcome its length and unevenness. Language is extremely strong and constant, with countless uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," the "N" word, "s--t," and many more, as well as strong sex-related dialogue. A married couple also kisses and flirts. A major character uses cocaine frequently and talks about its benefits; he sprinkles some on a tray of brownies. Characters also drink and smoke pot, and a suitcase full of prescription meds is shown. There's fighting and punching, people getting knocked unconscious, threatening with a switchblade and guns, and a child using a Taser gun on an adult.
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What's the Story?
In DOMINO: BATTLE OF THE BONES, "Pimpfessor Dr. DMF, esq." (Snoop Dogg) briefly introduces the game of dominoes to viewers. Then young Andy (Nathan Dana) is unceremoniously dropped with his grandfather, Gerald (Lou Beatty Jr.), when his parents take off for Cabo. Andy plays dominoes on a phone app while Gerald plays the real thing; he tries to explain to the boy that there's more to the game than just the math. Meanwhile, broke, divorced Walter (David Arquette) makes one last play for success with a domino competition to be held in a church in Compton. Entrants include formerly incarcerated Big Slams (Big Jah); Camila (Valeria Vallejos), who hopes to prove something to her bullying cousin and unsupportive father; and Tenspeed (Anthony McKinley), a fast-talking, roller-skating, cocaine-using domino champ. Many things go awry, but a winner will eventually be declared.
Is It Any Good?
Wobbling lazily between good-hearted fun and crude humor filled with long, dead stretches, this competition-based comedy might have been charming enough to succeed with just a little more care. Perhaps the main problem with Domino: Battle of the Bones is that it has too many cooks: There are no fewer than three credited directors. It also goes on far too long (109 minutes), there are too many unfunny jokes, and too many pointless scenes are allowed to remain intact. Certain ideas are repeated many times as if they're supposed to be funny -- such as Walter's financial troubles and Tenspeed's cocaine use -- even though they're not.
As the movie goes on, certain characters open up, adding a little sweetness. For example, Gerald and Andy start to bond, and Camila and her father are finally able to open up to one another. And Snoop Dogg practically steals the entire movie in just a couple of scenes while seated at a desk (he probably shot all of his scenes in an hour). But, unfortunately, too much of Domino: Battle of the Bones goes a little too far into stereotype, tastelessness, and humorlessness. Perhaps most disappointingly, despite Snoop's quick domino primer, the movie doesn't seem to care at all about the game itself, barely showing the games in play and not providing enough information to generate any suspense. The movie could have been a win, but instead it topples.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Domino: Battle of the Bones depicts drugs and alcohol use. Are substances glamorized? When Tenspeed talks about the benefits of cocaine, is he believable? Are there consequences for using? Why does that matter?
How does the violence in this movie compare to that of others you've seen? How much actual violence occurs, and how much is a threat of violence? What's the difference?
Is Tenspeed a bully? How does Andy handle his taunts? Is there a "right" way to handle a bully?
What are family relationships like in the movie? How does Camila relate to her father? How does Andy relate to his grandfather? What changes, and how? How similar or different are these behaviors compared to your own relationships?
How does the movie view competition? Why is it necessary to "get into the other guy's head" while playing dominoes?
- In theaters: June 11, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 20, 2021
- Cast: Snoop Dogg, David Arquette, Lou Beatty Jr.
- Directors: Baron Davis, Steven V. Vasquez Jr., Carl Reid
- Studio: Tricoast Worldwide
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, drug use, and sexual references
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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