Flint

Movie review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Flint Movie Poster Image
Well-meaning recounting of a city's toxic water problem.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 120 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The citizens of Flint bond over their shared misfortune and work to try to expose the government's wrongdoing for the betterment of the entire community. The message being that one person can make a difference and that we are even stronger together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

People from all walks of life live in Flint -- white stay-at-home moms, Muslim community organizers, heavy metal-loving biker types, African-American priests -- and they are shown coming together despite their differences and fighting for the greater good. The film focuses on the women at the heart of the clean water crusade and highlights the way even so-called "average" folk (they're dismissed as "soccer moms" by one government official) can empower themselves and make a real difference.

Violence
Sex

No sex, but discussions of miscarriage and pregnancy.

Language

"Hell," "damn," "bulls--t." A woman calls someone a "douche canoe."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some wine is enjoyed at a dinner party. Any drugs shown are prescription medications being taken due to health problems being caused by the toxic water in Flint.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flint examines the notorious (and still ongoing) water crisis in Michigan. There are frank discussions and depictions of health problems caused by the poison-filled water, including a scene where a character is told she has miscarried and another where someone has a seizure. People have rashes, and a child with lead poisoning acts out erratically, throwing things. There's a lot of explanatory dialogue, some scientific in nature, which may cause younger children to tune out. There's also a wholly pointless romantic subplot.

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What's the story?

FLINT is a by-the-numbers recounting of the early days of the still-developing toxic water scandal in the Michigan city of the same name. The powers that be in Flint decided, in 2014, to switch water sources to the heavily polluted Flint River -- full of toxic waste, auto factory runoff, even dead bodies -- and neglected to put any water treatment safeguards in place. Add in the city's highly deteriorated system of pipes, and you have a perfect storm of bad decision-making that results in an illness-ridden populace and lead poisoning levels that are, simply put, off the charts. Flint focuses mainly on the various women who, enraged by the health problems they and their families have been suffering and at the negligent authorities who shrugged off responsibility for them, attempt to do the job their lawmakers won't: Protect the public. They learn as much as they can about water treatment systems, working with professors, lawyers, doctors, and EPA officials to bring the truth to light and to hold the parties in charge accountable. As the movie itself states, the fight is far from over.

Is it any good?

There are some deeply important issues hinted at in this film that could (and should) have been covered in greater depth. Especially concerning is the treatment of economically disadvantaged communities by the old, mainly white men in charge. Still, Flint isn't bad for what it is: a perfectly respectable, if not a bit underwhelming, dramatization of this very real and very unresolved tragedy still affecting an estimated 100,000 residents. The direction is capable, and there's a genuine chemistry between the lead actresses (including Betsy Brandt of Breaking Bad, singer/actress Jill Scott, and Marin Ireland of Sneaky Pete) that draws you into their fight. Less successful characters (who may or may not be amalgams of real-life people) are retired nurse Iza Banks (Queen Latifah, who also produced) and her daughter Adina (Sleepy Hollow's Lyndie Greenwood), who pad things out with a tedious romantic subplot that feels entirely out of place.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they would do if they lived in a town like Flint. What would it feel like not being able to shower, brush your teeth, boil some pasta, or have a drink of water whenever you want? How would this affect your daily life?

  • How did you feel about the way government officials handled the women's concerns? What could they have done better or differently?

  • How did the women portrayed in Flint demonstrate character strengths like perseverance, teamwork, and integrity? Why are traits like this important in a crisis?

Movie details

For kids who love drama

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