Filly Brown

  • Review Date: April 22, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Young hip-hop artist sacrifices her true identity for fame.
  • Review Date: April 22, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

To become a rap star, Majo must choose between being true to herself or abandoning her friends and her values. She initially decides that fame and fortune are worth the price but eventually realizes it's not the best decision.

Positive role models

Majo abandons her friends, lies, and steals, all in an effort to help her mother. It's an admirable goal, though her methods are misguided, and she eventually sees the error of her ways.

Violence

A few graphic beatings, including a gang that assaults a man with a baseball bat, a man who comes close to raping an underage teenage girl (and punches her when she resists), and a woman who's kidnapped.

Sex

A few kisses.

Language

Strong, very frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch" "d--k," and plenty of other choice words.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes show adults drinking beer and teens smoking pot. An older man gives hard liquor to an underage girl.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Filly Brown -- which marks the first and last big-screen appearance by late singer Jenni Rivera -- is about a young hip-hop artist trying to make it as a recording artist in Los Angeles without abandoning her values. As her star rises, she must make a series of difficult choices; every time, she gets a little closer to fame and a bit further away from her true identity. The film has some graphic beatings, and in one scene, a man comes very close to raping a teenage girl. Several sequences show people (including teens) smoking pot and drinking beer, and there's heavy swearing all throughout the movie ("f--k," "s--t," and much more).

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What's the story?

Majo (Gina Rodriguez) is trying to find success as a hip-hop artist in Los Angeles under the stage name FILLY BROWN, and her talent catches the eye of a famous producer. But as she gets closer to the spotlight, Majo must make a series of difficult choices, each one taking her farther away from her true identity. Majo's efforts are made even more difficult by the fact that she really needs the money that's dangled in front of her to help her imprisoned mother (Jenni Rivera) appeal her conviction. Majo and her father (Lou Diamond Phillips) are both in difficult positions, forced to make choices that lead to short-term gain for the family but in the long run prove to cause more harm than good. Edward James Olmos co-stars as the attorney who must face both Majo and her father, armed with some difficult truths.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Filly Brown is far from subtle or understated, and it's not hard to see that the characters are making poor decisions. Though it does veer in some surprising directions, leaving the audience unable to predict exactly how Majo and her family's actions will come back to haunt them, the movie eventually treads on very familiar territory.

Olmos brings some gravitas to the saddest section of the arc, but Phillips seems to be acting underwater, with emotions that range from sedate to stoic. Where is he? It's Rodriguez who stands out for her bold performance, especially in scenes where she's protecting her younger sister and her hot temper flares. It's enough to make the film somewhat entertaining, though hardly original.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the choices that Majo makes. What motivates her? Do you think she's a relatable character? What would you have done in her position?

  • How do her father's choices parallel Majo's? What does he decide? Is that the right choice?

  • What is the movie saying about fame and those who seek it? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 19, 2013
DVD release date:July 30, 2013
Cast:Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Lou Diamond Phillips
Directors:Michael D. Olmos, Youssef Delara
Studio:Indomina
Genre:Drama
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, some drug use and violence

This review of Filly Brown was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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