Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Fitzgerald embodied the talent, drive, and determination required to make it in show business, but her relentless touring took a toll on her private life.
Positive Role Models
Fitzgerald says she just kept going despite setbacks throughout her life, allowing her clear voice to be heard and appreciated around the world.
Black musicians faced oppressive racism and segregation practices as they toured the country in the 1930s through the '70s, and were denied entrance to restaurants, bars, and hotels. Some Black performers, acclaimed by White audiences, would perform at a high-end venues, but then have to move to the Black part of town to stay in rooming houses, the only establishments that would accept them. The irony is that this Black singer and musician extraordinaire would in the end revive, reinterpret, and universalize what's known as the American Songbook, a collection of songs written mostly by White composers, many of the songs from musicals that Black people couldn't attend. The film highlights the difficulty of being a woman and having an active career as a performer. Maintaining a marriage wasn't possible and being an attentive mother was also difficult. Acclaimed bandleader and drummer Chick Webb is called a "dwarf hunchback." Friends recall Fitzgerald's discomfort with her weight and her stocky build, and she's described as looking less like a chanteuse and more like a "librarian" or "school teacher." Women are judged by their looks. Smokey Robinson recalls trying to integrate lunch counters. Fitzgerald owned a house in the all-White Los Angeles luxury neighborhood of Beverly Hills but, because of systemic racism, her White manager had to buy the house in his name in order for her to make the purchase.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Newsreel footage shows police hosing down Black protesters. Blacks are mistreated, excused by institutional racist policies. Fitzgerald was arrested by Houston police officers who seem to have harassed her and her entourage for no reason. When she arrived at the jail, many asked her for autographs. Fitzgerald ran away from home because her mother whipped her and gossip suggested she might have been "abused" by her stepfather. She was beaten by staff at her reform school. Fitzgerald suffered from congestive heart failure. She lost her legs to diabetes in 1993.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"F--k," "ass," and "spliff." Harlem is called the largest "colored" city in the world.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As per her anti-drug stance, Fitzgerald was described as hiding her head under her coat while traveling in a bus with other musicians who were smoking marijuana to avoid the smoke.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things is a British documentary about the life and music of the famed jazz singer who died in 1996 at the age of 79. Her uncanny talent, her impact on other musicians, and her endurance over decades of nearly nonstop touring and influential recordings are chronicled here. It's a great start for those getting interested in swing, jazz, bebop, and the American songbook. The racism endured by Black musicians is discussed here, including the fact that Fitzgerald could perform at clubs that would deny her entrance as a Black woman. Language includes "f--k," "ass," and "spliff." Harlem is called the largest "colored" city in the world, ignoring populous cities in Africa. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary is a fine starting point for teens to learn about the legendary singer. Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things is a sturdy elementary biography of the singer's life and a great introduction for young viewers curious about the paths popular music took to evolve to where it is today. At times it feels as if the film, in the effort to paint a spotlessly positive portrait, evades difficult personal revelations. For that reason, this doesn't feel like a definitive view of Fitzgerald's life, but rather a well-deserved celebration. Real fans will have to wait for the deeper dive into the musician's life.
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.