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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The necessity and transformative power of friendship. Grappling with institutional and overt racism, in the case of Hoke; in the case of Daisy, the loss of some independence due to aging.
Positive Role Models
Hoke, a man who grew up in rural Georgia during the Jim Crow-era South, finds ways to assert himself within the strict confines of racist society. Daisy sometimes condescends to Hoke and others, but she is a fiercely independent woman who doesn't relinquish the loss of this independence due to aging without fighting it every step of the way.
Black characters are portrayed in a way based in stereotype, appearing to be happy (or at least indifferent) working for White employers in roles such as drivers, housekeepers, and cooks. A Black character's death is treated matter of factly, and it's used as a plot point. On racial representation alone, the film generally fails. However, Hoke does assert himself and avoids becoming a caricature. And a character who is Jewish, over age 70 with dementia, has a more nuanced portrayal.
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Violence & Scariness
Mild car crash and mention of a synagogue being bombed. Hoke shares a memory with Daisy about seeing his friend's father hanging from a tree when he was a boy.
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Infrequent profanity. In one scene, state troopers use the "N" word, speak disparagingly of Daisy being "an old Jew woman." "Damn," "goddamn," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Characters drink Coca-Cola out of bottles.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Driving Miss Daisy is an Oscar-winning 1989 drama set in Atlanta, from the post-World War II years to the civil rights era. It shows the close friendship between Daisy (Jessica Tandy), a White Jewish woman in her 70s, and Hoke (Morgan Freeman), the Black man employed as her driver. While on a road trip, a trooper refers to them using the "N" word and "old Jew woman." Daisy's synagogue is bombed (not shown), which reminds Hoke of the aftermath of a lynching he witnessed as a young boy in rural Georgia, in which he found his friend's father hanging from a tree. The movie avoids overtly denouncing racism, preferring to hint at systemic injustice: For instance, while Daisy's son, a successful businessman, "supports" the message of Martin Luther King Jr., he's worried that public calls for civil rights would, as a Jewish White man in the South, cost him his business relationships. Daisy similarly doesn't consider herself racist, hotly reminding Hoke that she grew up poor. But she indulges in prejudiced behavior, such as not inviting Hoke to a speech she attends given by Dr. King until Hoke is driving her to the venue. She also falsely accuses Hoke of stealing from her pantry; as she tells her son, "they all take things, you know." For his part, Hoke admirably threads the needle of using enough deference to keep his job, through frequent "yes, sir" and "yes'm"s, but also maintains key moments of agency wherein he calls Daisy out for unreasonable demands. The movie takes place among these themes, as well as themes of trying to maintain your independence while aging, but its focus on delivering a feel-good story of two unlikely friends -- paired with an overly simplistic and nostalgic take on systemic injustice -- blunts more meaningful messages. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though this movie is charming and not at all violent or raunchy, it has some adult themes. Encounters with prejudice and racism and growing old are presented in Driving Miss Daisy in a way that might be a bit too heavy for young kids.
Some may enjoy watching the friendship that develops between the two main characters, though their power imbalance, Daisy's sour attitude, and her general treatment of Hoke like a servant rather than as a friend can make for unpleasant scenes. Hoke gamely takes on the challenge and demonstrates neverending affability in the face of ongoing slights, to the detriment of any deeper explorations into his character and motivations. Decades after its release, Driving Miss Daisy stands as one of Hollywood's more visible examples of stories about race relations that make for "comfortable" viewing and are targeted to White audiences, alongside movies like The Help, Crash, and Green Book.
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.